During the devasting Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-20, when it seemed the entire south-east of Australia was on fire, a little town in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains found itself in the path of a megafront.
Between November and February those bushfires burnt 18.6 million hectares of land and forests in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Megablazes killed 34 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and claimed three billion mammals, birds and reptiles, pushing some to extinction as their habitats were annihilated.
On January 2 the township of Batlow, population 1313, was declared 'undefendable' and its citizens advised to flee.
This is story of its survival – against all odds.
While most Batlownians evacuated, many stayed to fight for their beloved community.
And in the end, the undefendable town was saved by volunteers – by farmers, teachers, electricians, retirees and boys barely out of high school.
A great deal was lost, but much was saved, including Batlow's sense of itself.
During and after the fires, the world's media descended upon Batlow. They told the story of the battle for the town, or the parts of it they saw. The townspeople didn't object to that, but later felt the need to tell their story in their own words.
Undefendable is a memoir of a town under fire, a curated collection of stories, poems, and photographs from the people of Batlow about those terrible days.
Edited by Batlow locals, Sulari Gentill and Sarah Kynaston, Undefendable captures the experience of a small town plunged into a battle for its very existence. Sulari Gentill is also the author of the 10-book Rowland Sinclair mysteries series, The Hero Trilogy (YA); and two standalone crime novels Crossing the Lines, and The Woman in the Library.