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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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There were disturbing images of a fire storm threatening homes at Peregian Springs that was later discovered to be purposely lit by teenagers.
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.
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.
It’s unfathomable to learn that about four million hectares of forests and land have been burnt in New South Wales alone.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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