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Australia Has Been Burning

  • January 2, 2020
  • By 50 Shades
  • 10 Comments
Australia Has Been Burning

While most of we Aussies have been enjoying the festive season Australia has been burning from coast to coast. Every state in our country has been affected by catastrophic bushfires on a scale that has never been seen before. Over 5 million hectares of our forests and bushland have been razed, more than 1,000 homes have been burnt to the ground and 12 lives have been lost, including 3 volunteer firefighters.

In some areas along the East Coast of Australia the fires have almost reached the ocean and threatened coastal towns and villages. The Blue Mountain fires have now combined with others on the NSW Central Coast to create a mega-blaze, as large as the Sydney Harbour. Sydney and many other towns has been enveloped in a dense smoky haze for months, with the air quality being extremely poor. People have been seen walking the streets in Sydney with masks across their faces in an almost “armaggedon-like” trance.

Australia Has Been Burning

The dense smoke haze enveloping the skies on the Tweed Coast

The bushfires have also taken a huge toll on our Australian native wildlife with 480 million animals feared to have perished, including nearly a third of the koalas in New South Wales’s main habitat. The tragic outcome is that we’ve lost a massive swathe of koala habitat and there will be ongoing declines in koala populations going forward.

Australia Has Been Buring

Massive forests of Eucalyptus trees have been destroyed during the bushfires

What’s Caused the Australian Bushfire Crisis

Although Australia has historically suffered from bushfires, 2019 has been different. We’ve had record low rainfall across the country, extreme high temperatures and strong winds. The fires have been fuelled by a vast bank of dry fuel in our forests following the country’s record-breaking drought. Multiple studies, in Australia and overseas, have discovered that the climate crisis is lengthening the fire season.

Australia Has Been Burning

The remains of a burnt down house on Williams Hill in the Nambucca Valley

Social media has had a field day with many points of view being imparted. The role of climate change, in contributing to Australia’s unusually early and fierce fire season, has been the subject of serious debate from all different political persuasions. The federal government has refused to concede that climate change – and in particular Australia’s continued rising carbon emissions and massive fossil fuel exports – have played any role in the current fire crisis. It has been a cause of concern to much of the community feeling as though their government is failing to act. It has been said that politicians are “burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them”.

Australian Has Been Burning

A blood sun and smoke hazed sky at sunset on the Northern NSW Coast

Our own Prime Minister was crucified for holidaying in Hawaii whilst bushfires had reached a catastrophic stage in our country. He returned only after two volunteer firefighters lost their lives. I personally feel that he was wrong to abandon his country in its time of need.

Gold Coast Hinterland & Scenic Rim Bushfires

In the Gold Coast Hinterland, where I live close to the New South Wales border, fires raged for months and our skies were shrouded in a grey smoke haze with a red blood sun barely visible through the haze. Family and friends known to us were told to evacuate their homes in some areas of the hinterland, in particular the towns of Beechmont and Sarabah in the Lamington National Park. There were also substantial losses during bushfires in Stanthorpe and Applethorpe in the Granite Belt.

Australia Has Been Burning

Beechmont in the Gold Coast Hinterland

I was saddened to see the historic Binna Burra Lodge’s heritage-listed cabins totally destroyed by the bushfires in Lamington National Park. It’s almost an institution with hundreds of thousands of people from the Gold Coast, Brisbane and from around the world visiting the lodge since it opened in 1933.

Australia Has Been Burning

Bellbird Lookout at Binna Burra Lodge

Sunshine Coast Bushfires

North of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast bushfires ravaged Noosa Northshore areas of Cooroibah, Teewah and Tewantin. Whilst Peregian Springs homes came dangerously close to being decimated by bushfires.

Australia Has Been Burning

The Sandhills of Teewah Beach

There were disturbing images of a fire storm threatening homes at Peregian Springs that was later discovered to be purposely lit by teenagers.

Australian Has Been Burning

A fire storm at Peregian Springs Image Credit: www.abc.net.au

New South Wales Bushfires

Probably the worst hit is the eastern state of Australia of New South Wales. Areas that have been affected include Gospers Mountain mega fire in Wollemi National Park and the towns of Blackheath and Lithgow in the Blue Mountains; Three Mile in the Hawkesbury on the Central Coast; Green Wattle Creek southwest of Sydney; Currowan, Conjola Park, South Nowra, Cobargo and Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast; Rappville near Casino; Glen Innes and Armidale in the Northern Tablelands; Port Macquarie, Nambucca, Kempsey and other Mid Coast areas; Tenterfield; Clarence Valley on the North Coast.

Australia Has Been Burning

The Blue Mountains in NSW have been ravaged by fires

On our recent caravan trip to the Mid North Coast of New South Wales we witnessed areas that were engulfed in smoke, burnt out state forests on both sides of the Pacific Highway and more forests and houses razed inland of Macksville and Nambucca.

Australia Has Been Burning

Forests destroyed by bushfire along the Pacific Highway on the North Coast of NSW

It’s unfathomable to learn that about four million hectares of forests and land have been burnt in New South Wales alone.

South Australian Bushfires

The areas of Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills and two fires on the north side of Kangaroo Island caused by lightning strikes, have caused much damage. 23 firefighters were injured in South Australia fighting these fires and 5 homes, 28 buildings and 16 vehicles had been destroyed.

Australia Has Been Burning

One of the areas on Kangaroo Island affected by Bushfires at Stokes Bay

Victorian Bushfires

At the time I’m writing this post there are now massive bushfires raging throughout East Gippsland and the Alpine region of Victoria. The beautiful coastal town of Mallacoota and surrounding Croajingolong National Park has been heavily impacted by the bushfires with residents and holidaymakers being evacuated to the beach. Well over 550,000 hectares have burnt in East Gippsland with fires burning since November 2019. There has been significant loss of property (at least 50) and four people unaccounted for.

Australia Has Been Burning

Where the forest meets the beach at Mallacoota

What We Can Do During The Bushfire Crisis

If you live in an area that is surrounded by forest or bushland take every precaution possible to protect your house and outbuildings from fire. Watch out for and listen for bushfire warnings and alerts and be ready to evacuate if necessary.

Provide support for our volunteer fire fighters such as the Rural Fire Service in the state where you live. If you can spare some time or money to help out with essentials required for our firefighters please give generously. For the latest updates, important information and donations contact Rural Fire Service Qld or Rural Fire Service NSW

Australia Has Been Burning

Rural Fire Service volunteers fighting a bushfire in Queensland Image Credit: Queensland Country Life

Heed total fire bans and don’t light fires, throw cigarettes into bushland or use flammables during this time. Make sure you educate your children about fire hazards and know where they are at all times.

Don’t travel on roads in bushfire areas unless absolutely necessary, even if this means you have to cancel travel or holiday plans.

Most importantly, put pressure on your local Member or Parliament to recognise that climate change is a reality. We need to act now with an action plan and strategies to reduce emissions and create renewables, for the future of our country.

Our former fire chief Greg Mullins has summed it up perfectly: “We must also accept that Australia’s climate has changed and we need to make sure that our land management, disaster response and climate policies are relevant to the new reality we face.”

Australia Has Been Burning

A Poem About The Australian Bushfire Crisis

Australia Has Been Burning

 

Australia has been burning and you can’t deny the facts

Climate change and extreme weather triggered this catastrophe.

With vast state forests and bushland completely decimated,

Meanwhile our government rejects climate change is a reality.

 

Australian has been burning and left us all in shock.

Cities have been engulfed in a choking smoky haze,

Lives have been lost, homes destroyed and native animals gone.

Our country is in mourning whilst Australia is ablaze.

 

Australia has been burning and our firefighters are worn out.

They have been battling bushfires for months without rest.

They are true heroes and deserve to be compensated,

But our government remains unmoved. Aren’t we blessed!

 

Australia has been burning from coast to coast,

There are over 5 million hectares of our forests annihilated.

Fire chiefs warn that the climate crisis is escalating bushfires.

An action plan for fire prevention needs to be advocated.

 

Australia has been burning and I’m so saddened by the news.

Every day I see more devastation and people’s lives left in shreds.

I see charred and blackened landscapes instead of forests and trees,

Native wildlife with horrific burns and depleted habitats instead.

 

Australia has been burning and we all need to act now.

Let’s put pressure on the government to change policy,

Terminate fossil fuels, reduce emissions, create renewable energy.

We only have one Australia, so let’s take care of our country.

~ Kathy Marris

Please Note: Bushfire facts and statistics were current at the time publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By 50 Shades, January 2, 2020 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 10

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

10 Comments
  • jo
    January 2, 2020

    This is such an apt and poignant post Kathy, and I agree Australian bushfires in 2019 have been ghastly and not enough is being done to address climate change and the impact it’s having.

    I read someone’s post on Instagram today and it contained the following statistics – in the Australian bushfires so far we have lost 12.35 million acres!!! Californian bushfires 2019 – 253,214 acres lost. Amazon bushfires 2.24 million acres lost. And it’s only the start of summer.

    I loved your poem and the message it contained, I hope it does go viral :)

    • Kathy
      January 3, 2020

      Yes those bushfires stats were alarming! Gosh I hope there isn’t too much more loss. It’s been very depressing and so heartbreaking to see what people are going through. I think we all need to band together and put some pressure on our politicians to take some action towards climate change and the droughts.

  • Life Images by Jill
    January 2, 2020

    I too have been devastated watching the news reports about the bush fires in the east of Australia. The firefighters must be totally physically and emotionally exhausted. My heart goes out to those who have sustained losses, particularly to those who have lost family members.
    Whilst we the the west are burning too – over 11,000 hectares just before Christmas in communities just north of Perth.
    The Kalgoorlie to Esperance Highway and the Eyre Highway on the Nullarbor is closed to all traffic due to a blaze around Norseman, which has been burning since before Christmas, closing off one of only 2 of WA’s bitumen road accesses. About 270,000 hectares have been destroyed by seven separate fire fronts. Travellers from the east are stranded at Caiguna Roadhouse, 400 kms east of Norseman, where supplies are running low.
    A bushfire in the Stirling Ranges in WA’s Great Southern region has burnt more than 32,000 hectares since being sparked by a lightning strike on Boxing Day.
    I can only pray that respite will come soon.

    • Kathy
      January 3, 2020

      I had no idea that the bushfires in the west were so widespread and severe, so I must apologise for not including these stats in my post. There has been so much publicity surrounding the bushfires here in the east that I guess the fires over there have slipped under the radar, which is a shame. I did hear something about the fires near Caiguna and that struck a chord as we stayed here one night when we crossed the Nullarbor. I hope we get these massive fires under control as soon as possible and that there are no further losses. We all need to pray for rain, and a lot of it!

  • Little Wandering Wren
    January 9, 2020

    Kathy – how sad to see we have come to this. My family and our house are safe but my Emergency App pings daily with notifications of bushfires within 20 km, my lungs are full of smoke and my heart is heavy.
    I have linked your post to mine as it is one of the best-researched posts I have seen. Yes, we need our politicians to take actions and the rest of the world to take note. My hope is that this is a gamechanger. It is happening in our back yards but it could so easily be elsewhere.
    Wren x

    • Kathy
      January 11, 2020

      That must be extremely worrying to be that close to the bushfires Wren. I hope that you remain to be safe. Thank you for your kind comment. Since writing this circumstances have changed somewhat and our government have finally taken some action, however I feel we still need to address climate change. I will head over to your post to take a look. Best wishes x

  • Life Images by Jill
    January 9, 2020

    take care everyone living near the firefront!

  • Christine
    January 14, 2020

    I’ve been feeling quite distraught about these fires and the horrendous loss and damage, even though I’ve not been personally affected. I can’t even look at the images of the wildlife. I’m so worried about the future of our world. I’m hoping this may be a turning point and that we/the world start paying attention to what’s happening around us and linking it to the climate warnings we’ve had for decades. I’m absolutely driven to do all I possibly can to inform others of the dangers of climate change and urge our politicians to take strong action, not just speak weasel word.I’ll be doing a lot of letter writing.

    • Kathy
      January 14, 2020

      I felt so compelled to write this piece as I was also feeling very helpless whilst my country was burning around me. I believe that we all need to put pressure on our government to take action against climate change. The first step will be the royal commission into the causes of the bushfires and then from that point hopefully climate change will be taken more seriously. Half of my friends are still actually in denial that climate change exists so we need to educate people of the reality that our world is changing. I think letter writing is a great idea.

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