The Week: 6th – 12th January

Another week of extreme heat, bushfires and smoke. I’m guessing this is our new normal in Australia now …


Merry Christmas – again. Ukrainians celebrated on Monday and Tuesday, according to the old calendar. It was a weird one this year. How do you celebrate when your entire region burns?

The Landowner’s Secret for $1.99!

The Landowner's Secret Sonya Heaney Summer of Love Promotion

Regency is NOT Victorian – which is NOT Edwardian!


Rereading Favourites

Books HD

The Week: 30th December – 5th January

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 1

Canberra Australia Bushfire Smoke 5th January 2019 Sonya Heaney Nature Natural Disaster 2

Yesterday Canberra had its hottest day on record. And now, mid-morning, the bushfire smoke (above) is worse than it has been since the 2003 firestorm. Because the air conditioning just brings in the smoke I ended up sleeping on the couch last night, where it was cooler.

This has been an extraordinary and tragic week for Australia. There’s nothing that has happened in any other country that is comparable to the scale of this disaster.

Goodbye, 2019.

Canberra Australia Summer Heatwave Sunset Sonya Oksana Heaney Smoke Bushfire 30th December 2019 1

2020 Begins

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

2020 Begins …

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I was in a little hamlet near the Victorian town of Bright for a week – with no Wi-Fi – and that area now has bushfires everywhere. And now I’m home the fires keep knocking out the phone lines and the internet.

My city, Canberra, currently officially has the worst air quality in the world, thanks to the smoke from the bushfires. The southern part of the city is the worst, and the reading for the worldwide worst air is being taken a few streets from my house. We’re covered in smoke and brown dust.

1st January 2020 Canberra Worst Air Quality in the world Bushfires.

Before and after:

Walk to the shops Tuggernanong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 21st July 2019 Sunny Warm Afternoon

Severe world-record bushfire smoke Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Tuggeranong 2nd January 2020

The national parks around me are being evacuated as I type because they’re worried the fire is going to hit us. And the holiday I’m supposed to soon go on the to NSW South Coast, to research for an upcoming book, is in doubt as Mogo – the gold rush town I wanted to visit – burnt down on New Year’s Eve:

Mogo Bushfire Destruction

When I returned home from Victoria I discovered that the neighbour hadn’t fed his cat in recent memory, and the little sore on his chin had grown to the point he no longer has any fur on his chin, neck or ears – just red-raw sores.

Here he is before he was sick:

Stinky the Cat

I’ve taken control of the cat at the moment, and my time these days is taken up with emergency visits to and phone calls with the vet, and battles with the poor guy to try and get medicine in him and medicinal cream on the wounds – he hates it. I’ve at least managed to get the infection to stop stinking, and he’s gained a bit of weight.

I’ve had a charity approach me to try and help with his recovery, and his owner, who refuses to pay for any medical treatment, needs to be in prison.

I got a lot of typing done while I was in Victoria, but it’s been hard to work since, with our whole region on fire. I can’t even work on a few of my manuscripts, because the locations I was using no longer exist!

This is an extraordinary way to begin the year. It’s horrifying, and it has only just begun.


Goodbye, 2019.

The only thing on many Australians’ minds as the year comes to an end is that our entire country is on fire. Canberra is finishing the year blanketed in smoke and suffering through a severe heatwave, and for some of the day we had an out of control bushfire five minutes from us.

The New South Wales South Coast, where many (most?) Canberrans either have holiday homes or have visited many times, is ablaze, with people evacuated to the beaches and the entire landscape burnt away.

We need a miracle for 2020.

Canberra Australia Summer Heatwave Sunset Sonya Oksana Heaney Smoke Bushfire 30th December 2019 1

The Week: 9th – 15th December

Bushfire sunset in Canberra

Merry Christmas! I know it’s too early, but we’re celebrating today because we’re going away next week.

Canberra Smoke Heatwave Bushfires December 2019

The bushfire haze in Canberra has been horrendous. It’s hot, and for days there was smoke in your eyes and your throat even if you stayed inside. I live surrounded by mountains, and the smoke was so thick I couldn’t see them anymore. Now the west of the country is on fire, too.

The volcano disaster in New Zealand dominated the news here this week because the majority of the people killed and injured were Australian. It’s horrific.

Virgin River Episodes 1-3

Virgin River Robyn Carr Books Netflix Adaptation

Cover Love


How’s this for a neighbourhood library?!

Woman Transforms Rotting Tree In Her Yard Into Charming Neighbourhood Library Winter

The Week: 25th November – 1st December

Bushfires approaching Canberra on Friday night. Credit and bigger versions HERE.

It was a scary week for the Canberra region, with out of control bushfires everywhere. On Thursday the air filled with smoke at sunset, and when I went outside to look the entire valley was inundated. Our city has burnt before, and as we’re 100% surrounded by mountains and bushland, these times are terrifying for us.

Trailer for Virgin River!


Cover Love

The Goodbye Café (The Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

10th Anniversary of the Canberra Firestorm



Today is the tenth anniversary of the Canberra Firestorm – when bushfires jumped containment lines across the border and came into Australia’s capital city, killing four people, burning 70% of the Australian Capital Territory, and destroying more than 500 homes and buildings. It was also the first time a fire tornado was recorded. Propelled by 40 °C (104 °F) temperatures and extreme winds, unlike other fires that reach regional areas, the firestorm in Canberra brought destruction to inner city suburbs and national monuments.

Unfortunately all of my pictures from that day have disappeared somewhere! Go HERE to see a scary graphic of how the fires jumped the border and came into the city.



Canberra is a unique city, as it was designed to have the bush running all the way through it. You see kangaroos jumping around the streets, and you can go on long bushwalks without even leaving the suburbs. Go to one of the mountain lookouts in the city and you can see far more trees than houses. There were also pine plantations growing up to the edges of the west of the city. Eucalyptus and pine = not a good combination in fire conditions.


The pine plantation burning. Credit SMH.

For days leading up to the fires, Canberra was clouded in smoke. Everything was yellow, and the sun glowed orange and pink, making everything look really strange. On the actual day of the fires we were in the car, headed to Lake Burley Griffin in the centre of the city. On the way there, the radio reported rumours of homes on fire in the suburb of Duffy, but we didn’t really believe it; since when did the capital city burn?


This is what we saw from the lake – but I can’t find our (better!) pictures. Credit.

However, when we got to the lake, conditions were atrocious. A few minutes later, a huge black cloud of smoke came across the sky, blown over from where suburbs in Weston Creek were on fire.

So we hurried home. By then the sky was completely black, and the hills in our suburbs were burning.



When we got home it was raining ash and embers, and the sky turned bright red.

Because of helicopters water-bombing over us, the fire was stopped a few streets from our house. We spent the whole night up, listening to the emergency sirens on the radio and waiting to see if we needed to evacuate.

One thing that was completely infuriating about that day was that – as usual – the ‘national’ news out of Sydney didn’t even bother reporting anything was happening in the nation’s capital until after the worst of the destruction. I remember being so mad, seeing fires burning all around us outside, and the Sydney news reporting their usual local human interest (read: cute baby animal) stories!

Ten years later it is another unbearably hot day. There have been small fires burning in the district on and off for a few weeks. However, I think people learnt a lot that day, and now we’re better prepared.