Some years before we built our house here – where it always catches a breeze, on the edge of the hill, above the creek – lightning struck a tree on the bottom side of the track. We found it a couple of days later, still smouldering, and recollected a loud crack on the night of the storm. Heavy rain had meant that the fire hadn’t spread, despite the thickly burnt trunk, split down the middle.

Clouds are building up today, shielding us slightly from the fierce heat of the sun. The weather sites say there is no chance of rain, but we thought we heard the low rumble of thunder just now. A dry storm would cause all sorts of trouble. Fire would run a swift race through these crackle-dry paddocks.

There was a fire a couple of months ago at the corner where the highway meets our turn-off, Bucketts Way. Stark charcoal trunks stripped of foliage revealed houses we had never seen before. There is still a carpet of brown leaves among the blackened sticks, and pennants of copper leaves rustle on the tips of dead branches. But epicormic growth like bright-green velvet outlines the shapes of the trees.