BLACK TUESDAY (2017)
by Les Winspear
Moonah Arts Centre
Ferntree Community Centre
A rehearsed reading presented by Blue Cow Theatre in association with: Glenorchy City Council and Moonah Arts Centre; and Ferntree Community Association in partnership with Tasmanian Fire Service Bushfire-Ready Neighbourhoods
Michael Fortescue, musician
BLACK TUESDAY – 7 February, 1967
The 1967 Tasmanian fires occurred on 7 February 1967, an event which came to be known as the Black Tuesday bushfires.
Within a mere five hours, 110 separate fire fronts burnt through some 2,640 square kilometres (652,000 acres) of land in Southern Tasmania. Fires raged from Hamilton and Bothwell to the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Snug. There was extensive damage to agricultural property along the Channel, and Derwent and Huon Valleys.
They were the most deadly bushfires Tasmania has ever experienced, with 62 lives lost in that one terrible, single day. Property loss was also extensive with 1293 homes and over 1700 other buildings destroyed. The fires destroyed 80 bridges, 4800 sections of power lines, 1500 motor vehicles and over 100 other structures. It was estimated that at least 62,000 farm animals died. The total damage amounted to $40,000,000 in 1967 Australian dollar values. The resulting insurance payout was the then largest in Australian history.
BLACK TUESDAY – the play
Les Winspear’s play is based on interviews conducted with people who lived through the 1967 bushfires. The stories told in the play – despairing, surprising, funny, tragic, and hopeful – are all true, based on real events lived by the people who were there, and often told in their own words.