In Burning Bush - A Fire History of Australia, Stephen J. Pyne writes that Australia's bush owes its peculiarity to the strangely fire-loving eucalypts that burn so "readily, greedily, gratefully".
"Eucalyptus," he says, "is not only the Universal Australian, it is the ideal Australian - versatile, tough, sardonic, contrary, self-mocking, with a deceptive complexity amid the appearance of massive homogeneity; an occupier of disturbed environments; a fire creature."
The Greater Blue Mountains were gifted World Heritage status in 2000 because this landscape boasts an astonishing variety of eucalypts - about 100 - and it is a natural laboratory for studying their evolution. (It is also the droplets of eucalyptus oil these trees put into the atmosphere that make the Blue Mountains look so blue.)
This variety and evolutionary journey exist because, for millions of years, much of the Blue Mountains bush has burned with regularity as the climate evolved - and it has adapted to this burning.
Henry Lawson, who briefly lived in the Blue Mountains in the 1880s, also realised eucalypts and the fires they frequently foster meant the Australian bush was a place like no other. It shaped the unique character of Australia's people - especially the mateship we have seen so much of this smoke-filled summer.
In The Bush Undertaker, Lawson wrote: "And the sun sank again on the grand Australian bush - the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds, the home of the weird, and of much that is different from things in other lands."
Man-made climate change means the recent bushfires in the Blue Mountains were unprecedented in their scale and ferocity, but once again they did not burn everything. In the Wollemi section, a heroic firefighting effort saved the canyon that is the only wild home of the Wollemi pine - a "dinosaur tree" from ancient Gondwana.
In the Valley of the Waters, you can still descend through a fragrant eucalypt forest spared by the fires to experience the magic thrill of Empress Falls Canyon. Its cool, deep pools, its sculpted rock walls, its water jumps and its waterfall abseil are unchanged. I know because I guided a tour through the canyon on Wednesday.
On the cliffs above the Megalong Valley, you can still embark on adrenalin-filled rock climbing adventures. In the Jamison Valley, you can still take iconic bushwalks that include stunning clifftop vistas, babbling creeks and cascades, glades of majestic silver-trunked Blue Mountain ash and cool, green rainforest of sassafras, coachwood and tree ferns.
You can still stand where the naturalist Charles Darwin stood in 1836 when he visited the Blue Mountains and, like him, declare the view "quite novel and extremely magnificent".
Even the fire-fighting authorities are urging people to once again visit the Blue Mountains to help a tourism-dependant region hit hard by a lack of visitors. The burnt natural areas will reopen to the public when it is safe and environmentally responsible.
The executive director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Keith Muir, has released a "message of hope" because, he says, "wilderness is designed to take a hammering from fire. There were losses, but nearly all will recover with nearly a full complement of wildlife, provided we assist that recovery right now."
He says that, "as always, fires in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area burnt patchily", leaving many green refuges from which wildlife populations can expand, and fire intensity mapping showed that in many areas that did burn the tree canopy was still intact. While many have despaired, Muir is confident: "We will get better at nature defence and recovery ... with new knowledge and skills gained we will save wilderness and threatened species again and again till climate change is rapidly pushed back towards climate normality."
Blue Mountains artist Jenny Kee had her home saved by firefighters but her beloved bushland garden was blackened. Despite this devastation, the regeneration is already bringing her great joy as she watches scorched tree ferns send out fresh green shoots.
"As much as we love the green and the beauty of the bush before disaster, it's also important to look at it after the fire just to see what happens," she says. "It shows us what is possible. Every time I see those shoots - that green - and you see how tough, how hardy the earth is, you also see how tough we are as people ... I just still feel so optimistic for this country."
Come to the Blue Mountains again and see for yourself.
Daniel Lewis is a guide with the Blue Mountains Adventure Company and a former Sydney MorningHerald journalist. He takes people canyoning, rock climbing, abseiling and bushwalking.