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4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  186 Ratings  ·  53 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
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Text Publishing
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Australian author Adrian Hyland is a crime writer and lives in the small town of St Andrews which is near Kinglake in Victoria. His research into the terrible disaster which struck the vast bush in the area he calls home is meticulous. February 7th 2009 is etched into the memories of most Australians as the worst natural disaster by fire the country has ever known. But the memories of the survivors of that time are still filled with horror, nightmares and PTS – it will never go for the majority ...more
Jan 24, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing

This is very compelling reading. The author describes the events of Black Saturday, February 7th 2009, that resulted in Australia's highest loss of life from bushfire. The bushfire of Black Saturday wasn't like any bushfire ever experienced before. Twelve years of drought and a three day heat wave of temperatures the week before had left the country in southern Victoria dry and ready to burn. On 7th February extreme conditions were predicted and with a total fire ban in place, everyone in fire p
Oct 12, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2013 Trish rated it really liked it
”We were lucky at first. At the end of January 2009 the State of Victoria [Australia] sweltered through three successive record-breaking days of 109.4F-plus heat. In Melbourne the mercury climbed to 113F, 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 s
Alexandra Daw
Feb 28, 2013 Alexandra Daw rated it it was amazing
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
May 10, 2013 Elaine rated it it was amazing
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
Isobel Blackthorn
Apr 24, 2014 Isobel Blackthorn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: current-affairs
A terrific read. Hyland brings Black Saturday to life with gut-wrenching vividness.
Penni Russon
Nov 21, 2011 Penni Russon rated it really liked it
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
Maree Hall
Oct 28, 2012 Maree Hall rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Aug 18, 2012 Bec rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2015 Cassidy rated it it was amazing
4.5 - would have been 5 if there were less of those scientific terms - like three chapters, come on! Otherwise a very emotional and eye opening book that made me cry - it's awful how these people had to suffer through Black Saturday. The strength of these people are inspiring.
Ash Leonard
Jun 15, 2015 Ash Leonard rated it really liked it
This book takes me back to the eerie, blistering heat that took over Victoria in February, 2009. I found Hyland's book to be compelling, and I couldn't put this one down. Like many Victorians, I have ties to the Kinglake/Yarra Valley areas, with my grandfather and uncles living close by to the areas where the fires were, and who were spared by the change in the wind. Hyland writes with a critical eye, and the benefit of hindsight, but he also writes with compassion for those who suffered through ...more
Denise Tannock
Feb 07, 2015 Denise Tannock rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book was full of so many emotions - sadness, amazement, wonder, fright, shock, etc., etc.

This book relates how the day unfolded for Roger Wood, the policeman-in-charge in the Kinglake area on Black Saturday - February 7, 2009.
The devastation at Kinglake, and so many other areas on Victoria on that disastrous day, was felt by so many people. Roger did an amazing job as he moved around the area to help anyone he could, so many times putting his own life at risk.

It was extremely poignant t
Mar 23, 2015 Chelsea rated it really liked it
Hyland came to speak to us about this novel and his writing when I was at Uni, and I had always intended to give this one a read.

Perhaps this isn't the most ground-breaking literature ever, however this has been an incredibly insightful read and one I highly recommend.

It's fascinating to read accounts of the events of Black Saturday, and it is also a very personal one given Hyland's relationship with people from the Kinglake Ranges and surrounds. I also found it personally affecting, given Kingl
Bree T
Sep 30, 2011 Bree T rated it it was amazing
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
Vanessa Meachen
Sep 04, 2011 Vanessa Meachen rated it really liked it
Shelves: disasters, australian
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
Aug 23, 2011 Kathy rated it liked it
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
Jan 31, 2016 Alayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a terribly disturbing book, especially if the reader has lived through a bushfire, as I have. The descriptions of the terror and power of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria were blood-curdling. Thankfully, the author has interspersed these descriptions with discussions of the way a fire makes its own weather, and how the Aborigines controlled and used fire for 50,000 years before the "superior" Europeans arrived with their destructive ways of dealing with the landscape.
Kristie Saumure
Aug 04, 2013 Kristie Saumure rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top
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
Mar 19, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 18, 2014 Andrew L rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 12, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it
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
Phillip Clark
Jan 11, 2016 Phillip Clark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, fire
Some what of a confronting read, leaves no doubt as to what the residents of Kinglake went through.
Lyn O'Brien
Aug 28, 2011 Lyn O'Brien rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 11, 2013 Barbpie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia
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.
Sep 30, 2011 Cam rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 01, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie-authors
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.
Aug 23, 2012 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
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!
Apr 27, 2015 Danny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A real eye opener for those the community went through.
Jan 25, 2013 Glenn rated it really liked it
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.
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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.
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