1939 BLACK FRIDAY BUSHFIRES TIMELINE

January 1 - An almost stationary high pressure system developed over the Tasman Sea where it remained until the 14th. Very hot air from the interior of the continent was brought across South East Australia bringing with it heat wave conditions from the 6th to the 13th. The first fire was reported at Toolangi and fought for the next three days.

January 8 - Melbourne has its hottest day for almost 33 years. In the afternoon a strong south westerly blew flames along the Great Divide. Melbourne temperature was 43.1c and a record 44.7c on the 10th. Many large fires broke out on these days and spread fiercely killing 21 people. The fires could not be extinguished even though there was milder temperatures on the 11th and 12th. Monet's Mill was destroyed by fire. Fire officers John Baling and Charles Demby died while fighting the fire at Toolangi. They become the first victims of Black Friday.

January 10 - Temperatures reached 99deg before lunch and topped 113deg as the wind rose from the north west. 12 forest workers died in Rubicon and another 7 people died trying to flee the flames along the Acheron Way.

January 12 - Adelaide experienced temperatures of over 117deg as the intense heat moved towards Victoria. A high pressure system settled over the Queensland coast as a low pressure system moved east across the continent from the North East. Another low developed[ south of Melbourne. All three pressure systems combined to drive hot northerly  winds from inland Australia across Victoria.

January 11 - Fires burn out of control in Tasmania. The Prime Ministers home is saved by him and his wife.

January 13 BLACK FRIDAY - At 12:30pm Melbourne’s temperatures peaked at 114.1deg. north winds where soaring as thick smoke turns day into night. the Noojee postmistress refused to leave the switchboard at the post office until it catches fire. She asked her brother to wire the keys to her wrist. By the end of the day over a thousand homes, 69 timber mills and 1.4 million ha of forest where gone. 50 men, women and children had perished. At about 3pm fire engulfs Woods Point. 4 children died near Colac aged between 8 and 14. They had become separated from their family and tried to escape down a bush track. They where found lying in pairs just as they walk to school.

Janu ary 14 - Healesville's Hotel Gracedale opens once again after the fires for business.

January 15 - Bushfires rage near Canberra and burn within 3 miles of the nations capital threatening Government House and Parliament House. Charred leaves and debris fall onto them. Half an inch of rainfall in the evening and overnight.

January 31 - The Royal Commission into the causes of the ’39 bushfires opens in Melbourne.

February 16 - Heavy rains fell over most of the state of Victoria.