Photo Hunt #85, Hot

The Australian deserts are not, in general, the sand-duney, completely bare Sahara style of desert.

They get too much tropical rain for that. But they do have very high temperatures. During January and February, those temperatures can reach into the high 50C’s. The highest I’ve experienced is 58C ( 136F).

This dries out any moisture in the soil very quickly. The grass has had to develop a wax which hold in the moisture. This wax was very useful to the nomads who roamed the land. It is “thermoplastic” which means it softens with heat, making it ideal for use as a glue to hold stone spear-heads onto wooden spears.

The problem is that it makes spinifex, the species of Australian grass which survives on a month’s moisture in a year, very very flammable.

When it catches fire it burns very fast and very hot.

When the ambient temperature is already over 50C, that makes things VERY hot!

And dangerous if there is a wind shift.

spinefix-fire.jpg

Just behind me, as the photo was taken was a settlement. The fire was about 400 metres away.

Luckily the wind did not shift.

After the fire has passed, it becomes apparent why this desert is called the Great Sandy Desert. This was after a different fire, on a different dune, same desert and the result was the same.

 

Spinifex was also a major source of edible seeds for the nomads.

As a part of its survival strategy, spinifex, a grass, has very hard leaves. Hard AND needle-sharp. Very similar to an inside out pin-cushion! Newcomers to the Outback often touch the plant and draw blood.

I know someone (no, not me) who tripped and sat on a plant! Accidentally. And hard! He was picking bits of spinifex out of his backside for a week!

29 Responses

  1. I love your pictures although your take is a very serious one. The colors are amazing…
    Happy weekend !

    Indeed, the colours in the desert are really incredible.

    Like

  2. Great shots for the theme this week. Happy hunting! You may visit mine at http://mlizcochico.blogcpot.com & http://mlizcochico.wordpress.com. Happy hunting!

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  3. Wow Those photos are amazing. I know it’s a very serious matter. It’s amazing how the Spinifex has evolved in such a way. Happy weekend

    Thanks Jams, I have only touched on the desert here, there are so many wonderful adaptations in the heat and dryness.

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  4. What an interesting post. it is devastating to hear of the fires in Australia. I was very interested to hear how the plants adapt to life in such arid conditions. sara from farmingfriends

    Surprisingly, the vegetation in Australia has largely adapted to fire. In fact many seeds will not germinate unless they come into contact with some of the chemicals in smoke.

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  5. What great pictures. It always amazes me when I see the power of fire.

    it can be very frightening

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  6. Amazing pics, a very devastating hot!

    and yet such a temporary devastation. Within a few days of the next rains falling the barren sand turns green again.

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  7. a sad thing but your shot is great.

    strangely, the fire is necessary for the desert to bloom again.

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  8. Those photographs are all beautiful in a fierce way to me. Your post was very interesting and I’m glad the wind didn’t shift. I hope you have a good weekend.

    Thank you, Carver. The desert has a fierceness which is addictive. I’m also glad the wind didn’t shift – my vehicle had gained a flat tyre earlier in the evening, I had no chance to change the wheel and if the wind had changed, there was no way I was getting out of the way!

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  9. It’s surely destructively hot. But I like your photos.

    Thank you, Yuinyin.

    Like

  10. wow, those are some amazing photos!!

    http://brewerfamily8.blogspot.com

    Thanks for the kind comment

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  11. wow. I don’t think I’d like to get that close to a brush fire!

    the mountains not to far from us (the Monzanos) are on fire right now… several thousand acres have burned, and a handful of houses were lost. They still don’t have the fires contained at all, but hope that today’s snowfall will slow it down a bit.

    anyway, I posted a few photos as well…

    http://radula.wordpress.com/2007/11/23/photohunt-hot/

    The real tragedy is that in Australia, most trees regenerate after a fire. In most of the rest of the world, once burned, a tree is dead!

    Like

  12. Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks, Mike

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  13. Wow fabulous photos! Love the second one especially!

    That second photo is one of my favourite all-time images. It shows the desert so clearly.

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  14. Have to agree with mike goad. I have learned something today :D

    great take on this week’s theme ;)

    thanks, satkura. This photohunt is a great way to learn about other people and places.

    Like

  15. wow! that’s a very hot, nice post… keep it up!!!

    here is mine:
    PhotoHunt1…
    PhotoHunt2…
    Happy weekend c”,)

    yep, you learn not to touch anything metal :)

    Like

  16. Wow. Amazing nature. So many varieties. Lovely photos of something so special. Loved to learn something about it. Especially to be warmed up a bit by reading about it, we have the opposite here right now…

    I thought some poor people who are being frozen at the moment may enjoy hearing about some warmth :)

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  17. Fiercely hot and dangerous! Looks beautiful too.

    Happy photo hunting.

    Yep, fierce is the word for a spinifex fire – fast and furious!

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  18. that is sad

    sad, but necessary for the vegetation to regenerate.

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  19. Gosh my first time here for Photo Hunt. Great photos of my homeland, although I’ve been gone for 47 years. Bushfires are a scourge everywhere and I remember them well there with the eucalypts exploding.. Here the pines and fir and cedar are destroyed instead.

    Welcome, It is always good to see another Aussie here. While the Eucalypts explode at least they regenerate, unlike the pines and fir and cedars which are killed.

    Like

  20. Very cool shots… and interesting!

    Thank you, JC. It is a fascinating place.

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  21. the australian landscape is one of the most unique on this planet and your photos for this week prove that.

    I love the diversity in Australia, both in the people and the land.

    Like

  22. If I may say, this is nature’s “joke”. The desert is an amazing landscape from your photo here.

    It truly is amazing – and deadly if you are careless!

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  23. Great shots and a good story. I love desert, besides.

    There is something clean and soul-revealing about living in a desert.

    Like

  24. Ouch…about falling in it!

    My photo hunt picture is up. Come check it out if you get a chance. :)

    I’ll be visiting everyone soon – we had an election yesterday – I had to call that more important than my blogging :)

    Like

  25. Wow…that some good photos you have this week. The color of the sand for the 2nd photo is truly unique :)

    Like

  26. Amazing photos! I never realized they had fires in the desert like that! My hunt is up, please come and visit

    The desert fires can be spectacular and can burn thousands of hectares at a time. Luckily there is very little human infrastructure in the desert so there is not a lot of what we see as damage.

    Like

  27. Very cool post–very educational.

    Thanks, Heather. I certainly learnt a lot when I moved into that landscape.

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  28. Archie, I shifted uneasily in my chair as I read this.

    Let’s just say: spinifex in your socks; missing some seeds before washing; underwear in the same load; prickly bits in awkward places…*ouch*

    I was reminded of the grass seeds I had to take out of Dad’s socks when I was a youngen. (and thanks for the spelling lesson – I boo-booed)

    Like

  29. wow! I was amazed with your photos they all stunning and I feel like I was there looking at it..Those sure looks hot! take a peak on mine if you have a chance..

    Thanks for the kind words, Liza.

    Like

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