Buried in recent discussions around the escalating threat of fire emergencies in Australia is a
hidden and ‘haunted’ historical disjuncture that contains a political echo from the colonial past.
Contemporary communities struggling for a language within which to understand their
experience of devastating bushfires form narratives around the tropes of trauma and recovery. But
little attention is paid to the way in which shallow temporal experience within heavily urbanized
settler cultures continues to sit in stark contrast to the biological reality of a fire dependent ecosystems.
Increasingly, as climate change-driven escalation of fire disasters threaten, Aboriginal
Australia is called on to bridge the cognitive distance between the evolutionary scale and practical
human adaptation. This paper will examine how the politics inherent in this strategy willingly
conflate disparate concepts of time in order to jump over the unpalatable role the colonial past is
playing in the contemporary drama of fire in the Australian bush.