Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  41 reviews
On 7 February 2009 Sergeant Roger Wood found himself at the epicentre of the worst bushfire disaster in Australia's history. Black Saturday.

Wood, who's a country cop with twenty years experience—and also a raucous, meditating, horse-riding vegan—was the only officer on duty in the small community of Kinglake. As the firestorm approached he was called out to numerous incid...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Text Publishing
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Kinglake-350, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Kinglake-350

The Jetstream of Success by Julian PencilliahTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePride and Prejudice by Jane AustenThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Australia's ABC1's First Tuesday Book Club
46th out of 128 books — 64 voters
Down Under by Bill BrysonJoe Cinque's Consolation, A True Story of Death, Grief and th... by Helen GarnerPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayCloudstreet by Tim WintonThe Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Australia In Words
74th out of 103 books — 20 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 222)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
”We were lucky at first. At the end of January 2009 the State of Victoria [Australia] sweltered through three successive record-breaking days of 109.4°F-plus heat. In Melbourne the mercury climbed to 113°F, the third-hottest day on record. Birds fell from the sky, bitumen bubbled underfoot…the next morning [the newspaper] the Age carried the prescient headline: ”The sun rises on the worst day in history.”
Black Saturday. Our luck was about to run out.”

This is the story of the 2009 bushfire in the...more
In 2008 we decided to move - away from the most fire-prone area on the immediate outskirts of Melbourne - to somewhere where we had more room to move, and co-incidentally where we would feel safer. The possibility of catastrophic fire events had weighed heavily on our minds - as the countryside dried and dried after many years of a devastating drought, and as people moved more and more into places that, frankly, looked like death traps. We're not real old bushies, but we both are country born or...more
Alexandra Daw
This is one of those books you feel compelled to read as a survivor. Not that I was anywhere within cooee of these fires...I was 1,000 miles away but still...bushfires are strong in the consciousness of Australians. I grew up in Canberra and had holidays in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where the threat of bushfires was very real during summer. We live at the edge of the bush of Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane. I am perhaps foolishly consoled by the fact/urban myth??? that fire tends to race up moun...more
I don't think any review can do this book justice or even attempt to describe the emotions and reactions that it inspires. This non-fiction account of one of Victoria's worst natural disasters, the Black Saturday Fires 2009, reads like a thriller/horror story. It is very difficult to comprehend the events of that night in February and the total devastation caused, without having experienced them first hand. Even looking at the news coverage, photos and listening to stories from survivors and res...more
Maree Hall
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 fi...more
Wow! So sad.
We were on the outskirts of this fire and so much in this book is true.The fire came 100 metres close to us. I know, I know, you're going to say 'yes, its a true account of the tragic event.' But the description of the embers..........the roar like a jet plane engine of the fire...........the panic..........the wind. Perfect description of what all these things were like. No over exaggeration AT ALL!!
Trying to describe these sounds to my friends was so hard as it sounded like I was...more
Isobel Blackthorn
A terrific read. Hyland brings Black Saturday to life with gut-wrenching vividness.
Bree T
On the 7th February 2009, a combination of factors combined to create a disaster in country Victoria, Australia. Days and days of soaring temperatures (days peaking over 40, nights peaking around 30), two combined weather pressure systems, a 12 year drought creating the driest, most volatile conditions all culminated in the worst bushfire disaster on record. What made this fire so different was the enormous front when a cool change blew through in the afternoon and turned the fires back on thems...more
Penni Russon
Nov 21, 2011 Penni Russon rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Penni by: Neil Grant
This was a confronting read. Like Hyland, I live in St Andrews. We live a kilometre south of the "black belt" so the wind change that spared us is the wind change that took the fire back up the mountain.

The book is written like a blockbuster, and is immensely readable - I actually felt a little guilty at how gripping I found the narrative. Hyland uses key characters as focalisers, and the structure overall is very satisfying. Hyland reminds me of a police sketch artist, the way he draws together...more
Vanessa Meachen
Overall a good read. Bearing in mind that this is just one small group of stories from one of the many communities devastated by Black Saturday, it does a good job of providing a variety of experiences and reactions. It is informed and overview-esque and yet very intimate. Told mainly from the POVs of emergency personnel including CFA volunteers and police, it focuses on Kinglake, St Andrews and Strathewen. Having the focus on the CFA gives a real sense of urgency and reinforces the fact that th...more
I’m lucky I chose to read this book when it was raining for a few days. In saying that, I still had nightmares from it. I can’t imagine reading this book in peak summer. It was terrifying.
Probably because I have lived in the bush in Australia and I have experienced summers that are almost crackling from the heat. So it just felt a little bit too real for me. It was like reading a horror story but the monster was fire.

It had a lot of specific and technical information that went over my head. But...more
Kristie Saumure
An amazing and powerful book. My 2nd non-fiction page turner in row! Hyland transports readers to the scene of the bush fires in Australia through his vivid prose and strong narratives. Hyland shows readers the scene through the eyes of the people who lived through it. He does more than that though. He also provides insight into why these fires formed the way that they did, the psychology of both survivors and arsonists, as well as pointing to bureaucratic decisions that made the day worse than...more
An absolute must-read book even if just to learn about how bushfires work. However the tales of every day heroes, miraculous escapes, heart-breaking losses makes this a very emotive as well as informative book.
Andrew L
Such an emotive book. It made me well up so many times - the fierceness of the fire and the circumstances, the horror of the losses, the heroics of ordinary people. A great and engrossing read.
Wow is all I can say, as one of the people living in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne (directly referenced several times in the book) this book sent chills down my spine. We living in a street of firefighters and feel adequately prepared by so did so many people who perished in the fires. Everyone should read this book, whilst I struggled through the environmental history sections of the book I thoroughly enjoyed the harrowing stories Hyland recalled throughout his book.

Kinglake-350 was ed...more
Lyn O'Brien
A powerful read that brings home to the reader, the absolute horror of the February 2009 bushfires in Victoria. The story mainly follows the experience of Roger Wood, a Kinglake policemen. As the fires sweeps through the bush, people and authorities react and deal with their predicament in a variety of ways. The account of the day is beautifully crafted and really is a mighty tribute to the many people who on the day were incredibly courageous in their efforts to assist others.
Kinglake-350 is a riveting account of the Black Saturday bushfire of February 9, 2009, in Australia. Told from the points of view of several survivors of the fire, it includes lots of fire science and many Australian-isms, such as "singlets" and "stubbies." It is a total page-turner and utterly fascinating, and I hope it will one day be published in the U.S. Thank you to the late Maxine Clarke for blogging about Kinglake-350, or I never would have known of its existence.
Outstanding,brilliantly researched, immediately identifiable, soulful & without exception, offered every individual highlighted the respect they so rightly deserved. Well done Mr.Hyland, so easily that balance when covering such unbelievable tragedy can go awry, honesty can be lost for the sake of a bigger picture, this was not the case. It felt personal from beginning to thankyou's. This lives and breathes the love of community & grieves with it's losses.
Read this book. If you are an Australian and you live outside of the CBD, you are at risk of bushfire. This book pulls no punches and describes what it was like to be in Kinglake, Victoria, on Black Saturday Feb 2009. It will stay with you forever.

This is non-fiction that reads like fiction. Really powerful writing. A timely reminder that we are part of nature and cannot opt out of it by drawing the curtains, putting on the air con and watching TV.
Very good book. Clear, dramatic, moving account of the Feb 2009 fires at Kinglake and surrounds. Mainly told through the experiences of the Kinglake policeman on duty that day (Kinglake-350 was his radio call-sign), interspersed with other perspectives, fire dynamics, weather analysis, reflections on heroism and survival... I recommend it highly.
Also, this is the first e-book I have borrowed from Moreland libraries. Hurray for them!
Jan 25, 2013 Glenn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Glenn by: Cam
Not only did Cam recommend this book, she sent it to me, air mail to boot! So I'd like to thank my great Camigo for her gracious gesture and offer to send me the book as a gift!

It put a great human element to the tragic fires that occurred, both from the front line first responders and rescuers, and also to the regular citizens dealing with a fire of epic proportions.
Some of the finest writing yet on the catastrophic events of Black Saturday. February 7, 2009.

None of us will forget that day or the weeks of being ringed by fires that followed, but this well written and informative account reminds us not only of the terror and loss of those days, but also the courage and humanity of so many who were caught up in the devastation.
Alison Sutherland
An engaging, but at times harrowing account of the community response to, and experience of, the Black Saturday bushfires in Feb 2009. Hyland weaves technical and historical information about weather and fire alongside riveting narrative of the actual events to to give the reader a full understanding of the tragedy. Highly recommended.
This was a riveting read. I could have done without all the background on fire, plant biology etc... but the human stories were compelling. I hope I never have to confront decisions like these. Every Australian should HAVE to read this book, it is the country we live in and we should learn how to live in it.
I don't know whether it was the book itself, or the fact that it made me relive that awful day, and those subsequent and continuing days of recovery, reconstruction and regeneration, that had such an enormous impact upon me.

This is a book that will bring a lump back to the throat of all Victorians.
Dec 03, 2011 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathleen by: Cam
You won't be disappointed in this well-written book about a terrible tragedy in Australia, 2009. This is only the second book where I've had a psycho-somatic reaction... yes, the author's THAT good he makes it as real as anyone can feel and not have lived the experience.
I couldn't put this book down however it is an absolutely harrowing read. Really frightening and heartbreakingly sad in parts but also taking the time to describe the actions of ordinary people who showed huge courage on Black Saturday.
Not a book you read if you're looking for a bit of light entertainment. Harrowing reading with many images still fresh in my mind. It asks many questions of those who live in
the bush. Anyone want to buy a house?
If you know little about bushfires, this is a good book to read. Recounts events of Black Saturday focussing on the Kinglake area. The courage shown facing huge firestorms is quite spine tingling.
Suzanne Wood
Ouch. If you ever wanted/needed to know what a bushfire, particularly the largest, most vicious fire in our history was like - READ THIS. 'Caravan-sized fireball' sticks in my mind.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Adrian Hyland spent many years in the Northern Territory, living and working among indigenous people. He now teaches at LaTrobe University and lives in the north-east of Melbourne. His first novel, Diamond Dove won the 2007 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction.
More about Adrian Hyland...
Moonlight Downs (Emily Tempest, #1) Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest, #2)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »