Student in France worries about her Mount Barney Lodge home

MOUNT BARNEY: Caitlin Larkin writes about her concerns from her gap year in Europe. Photo: Supplied
MOUNT BARNEY: Caitlin Larkin writes about her concerns from her gap year in Europe. Photo: Supplied

I feel as though I'm being torn between two worlds.

One of fire and indecision, the other of rain and consensus.

Born and raised at Mt Barney Lodge, within the Scenic Rim, a part of rural South-East Queensland, I'm Australian and currently working as an au pair during my extended Gap Year in Germany and, more recently, France.

Europe has been my home for eight months now and I plan to stay for another 10 before return to my real 'home' in Australia to start university and a career.

But the home I know in Australia, a 30-acre patch of now withered eucalyptus trees, dry creek beds and disintegrating grass, might not even be there when I get back.

Because right now there's an uncontrollable bushfire sitting not five kilometres away, and all that's needed is the right gust of wind in the wrong direction before that 30-acres is simply not there anymore.

At least, that's what I've been told, because I'm not there now.

My reality is a very different one. I'm sitting in a gorgeous town house in the French city of Nantes, exploring the romantic downtown during the day, then care for three adorable children in the evening.

There is a certain unreal quality that takes place in life when your consciousness is caught between two separate realities.

Between Australia and France there is a nine-hour time difference.

When I get up to start my day of discovering the French culture my parents are settling in for a long night of two-hour sleep shifts so that they can check the state of the fires nearby.

Whilst I'm going to French classes and building an incredible group of international friends, they're deciding which items they've collected in the past 20 years of life together are worthy enough to take when evacuation becomes unavoidable.

There is not a single part of my being that actually believes the place I learnt to ride a bike, drive a car or build a shelter from the never-ending greenery surrounding me could ever just... burn to the ground.

My connection with the country to which I belong, feels like it's a lagging facetime call using the NBN.

My information is always nine hours old and the imagery is always just a little bit too pixelated.

But the hardest part to grapple with is the utterly complete and disgustingly immature denial that Australia has, that these fires are just 'another bad fire season' and not a systematic problem for which we are directly responsible.

Australia is that little child with the chocolate smeared all over its face, that refuses to admit it ate all the Easter eggs.

Climate change has been so politicised, victimised and misread that I and the people of Germany and France I am working with, are now looking at Australia and wondering how warped the looking glass needs to be before definitive climate action is taken to protect my home from consequences like today.