Victoria, February 1851

Black Thursday

Quick Statistics

12 Fatalities
The Victorian bushfire known as 'Black Thursday' occurred on 6 February 1851, though fires had been burning for some weeks. At 11am in Melbourne the temperature was 47C in the shade with a hot wind blowing from the NNW.

Fires raged out of control from Barwon Heads, Victoria, to Mount Gambier, South Australia, while the smoke haze spread as far as Tasmania. Approximately 12 people died and 5 million hectares – approximately a quarter of the state of Victoria - was burnt.
Losses included one million sheep and thousands of cattle with many properties and communities destroyed. The fire affected the Wimmera, Portland, Gippsland, Plenty Ranges, Westernport, Dandenong and Heidelberg with extensive damage in Victoria’s Port Phillip district.


Information sources

Collins P, Burn the epic story of bushfire in Australia, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2006, pp 207 – 226
Country Fire Authority, About Ash Wednesday, website viewed 8 August 2011
Department of Sustainability and Environment, Ash Wednesday bushfire – 1983, website viewed 8 August 2011
Insurance Council of Australia, Historical disaster statistics, March 2012, website viewed 23 May 2012 -