Kinglake-350 is a non-fiction account of the happenings in and around Kinglake during the Black Saturday bushfire disaster of 2009. Hyland creates a ripping story around the experiences of Acting Sergeant Roger Wood, on duty in Kinglake on the day of the fires.
The book centres on Roger Wood’s experiences as he fights to save what he can of a town under extreme attack from nature. He goes about doing his best for the locals in his community, all the while cut off from his own family, unable to find out whether they are alive or dead.
Woven through the story are plenty of interesting, scientific asides. Covering topics like how bushfires behave, climate basics or, of most interest to me personally, how people behave in disasters and what makes a hero do what they do.
There are some tremendously sad events described. Hyland very sensitively handles the tragedy of the day’s events and individual’s experiences as well as the psychological aftermath for the survivors.
I expected this book to be grueling. But it wasn’t. Yes, it is sad. But beyond the sadness, I found this book uplifting. An intriguing and inspiring portrait of the heroes, fighters and survivors in this little community.
Read the Herald Sun article: “Intimate Look at Black Saturday”.
Watch Adrian Hyland talking about Kinglake-350 on the First Tuesday Book Club website.