Voice of Real Australia: From cyclones to firestorms and everything in between

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Wild weather. Oh yes, we've got that. Illustration: Shutterstock

Wild weather. Oh yes, we've got that. Illustration: Shutterstock

Australian Community Media has a team of journalists across the country working hard to bring you not just live coverage of the fires but an understanding about the impact on people in their communities. Today, two opinion pieces - one from the Top End, the other from smack bang in the middle of the NSW South Coast fire zone.

 A category one cyclone looking across Darwin Harbour in 2017.

A category one cyclone looking across Darwin Harbour in 2017.

A letter from the Top End

Don't concern yourselves too much about us my fellow Australians, we'll be right.

As I write, a weather bomb is barreling down on the Northern Territory's capital to lob in the next day or two. Cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons, whatever you want to call them are monsters but on the scary scale this one is somewhere between oh well and will sport be cancelled.

The rumble of lawnmowers could be heard in the suburbs of Darwin and its satellite city of Palmerston last night as residents prepare for its arrival tomorrow morning.

Heavy tropical rain from this developing cyclone means that weekend chore will be impossible. The sky has been overcast for a few days and the flies are stickier than usual, but like you, at this moment in history we welcome any rain.

Our wet seasons have been poor of late, our famous barra rivers are barely flowing and even the crocodiles are staying at home waiting for the streams to rise

Remote Aboriginal communities on the Arnhem Land coast are better prepared than usual, there are no evacuations.

As our chief minister (read Premier) Michael Gunner intimated earlier this week, this is a handy dress rehearsal for the bigger cyclones sure to come after this first of the season. Category one or two, the authorities say. Those we have handled pretty well in the past.

It is a good reminder for locals to ready their emergency supplies, topped up with a few cartons of beer for the many cyclone parties being planned this weekend. You can see we are typically sanguine about our prospects.

We really don't want to distract from the real devastation which has cost lives and destroyed thousands of homes down south.

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons this week said "it was nice" to see cyclones buzzing about the Top End again.

"(It) is hopefully a signal that we may see monsoon activity which will disrupt the dominant hot air mass continuing to influence so much of the weather." We hope so, too.

To my fellow Territorians I say be alert but not alarmed and we'll see you out the other side.

Chris McLennan is the Katherine Times editor.

Journalists with RFS accreditation have been privileged throughout this bushfire emergency. While evacuated residents have often been held up by blocked roads, our RFS cards and yellow fire suits have allowed us to get into areas off-limits to all but emergency crews.

This is a privilege because we get to write the first draft of history and take our audience into the burnt zone, sharing the stories we find in there.

But this right of access also carries a burden.

Try as we might to retain our journalistic detachment, there comes a point when what we have seen during the day returns to play havoc with our heartstrings.

This generally happens at 2am.

Not wanting to wake loved ones, many of us retreat to a quiet corner of the house to have a good cry. It's a means of offloading the confronting sights we have seen and stories we've been told.

READ MORE of John Hanscombe's editorial.

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