Remember Black Friday | 1939

Remember Black Friday | 1939

The fires that ravaged Victoria on Friday 13th January 1939 are considered one of the worst natural bushfires in the world.

Almost 20,000 km˛ (4,942,000 acres, 2,000,000 ha) of land was burnt, 71 people died, several towns were entirely destroyed and the Royal Commission that resulted from it led to major changes in forest management.

Over 1,300 homes and 69 sawmills were burnt and a total of 3,700 buildings were destroyed. It was calculated that three quarters of the State of Victoria was directly or indirectly affected by the disaster.

The Royal Commission into the fires noted "it appeared the whole State was alight".

There were 5 major fire areas in the Victorian Alps / Yarra Ranges, Portland, Otway Ranges, Grampians and the Strzelecki Ranges. Smaller fires included; East Gippsland, Mount Macedon, Mallee and the Mornington Peninsula.

Towns either damaged or completely destroyed included; Dromana, Healesville, Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong (destroyed), Warburton, Warrandyte, Yarra Glen, Hill End (destroyed), Nayook West (destroyed), Matlock, Noojee (destroyed), Omeo, Woods Point (destroyed), Pomonal and Portland.

What is sadder, is many of these same towns were affected on the Black Saturday fires in 2009.

Black Friday | The Story | ABC


ABC | Explore the worst bushfires in Australia’s history as told in the story. Watch and read eye-witness accounts from ‘39’ and read what the experts have to say. Read the actual newspaper reports and Royal Commission findings from the time.

They didn't stand a chance.

While 13 is considered unlucky by some, Black Friday is the most likely origin of "Friday the 13th" as the unluckiest day/date of the year.

Next Remembrance Day


When & Where


Date: Saturday 13th of January 2018



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Ash Wednesday | 1983 Ash Wednesday | 1983

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