Eimear McNelis lives in Gippsland, where the East of the region has been impacted by the severe Australian bushfires. She gives us the run down on what’s been happening in Australia and lets us know how our rad readers can help out.
Whether you have travelled the length and breadth of Australia, or just been to one city, it’s hard to ignore that Australia is a vast country, a continent in itself. A country of extremes, little rain and severe drought combined with record breaking temperatures have been a tough combination to contend with. Since September firefighters have been combating several massive bushfire areas across Australia.
As we all know these fires intensified greatly since the start of 2020, with towns evacuated and homes lost. Most tragically people, farming livestock and millions of wildlife have lost their lives. This has also impacted on tourism, with many tourists opting to not travel to Australia at all during these threatening times.
In the small remote town of Mallacoota in East Gippsland over 1,000 tourists and locals were relocated by the Australian Navy.
‘Many holding on to their pets and belongings, they spent more than 20 hours on the naval vessel which took them to safety.’
Cut off from the only road in and out of the popular holiday destination led to aircraft, navy boats and troops coming to their rescue. Mallacoota is known for its pristine beaches such as Quarry, Betka and Secret beach, and was voted one of the top 10 Victorian secret beach locations in Australian Traveller Magazine in 2018. But this year, the usually laid back holiday town has been in crisis, with many people stranded on it’s smoky beaches as homes burned behind them.
N.S.W has been the worst affected state. We can hardly believe that places we visited ourselves as a family, such as Bateman Bay, Narooma and Mogo were being impacted by bushfires during this past couple of weeks that were also burning back in October. The iconic Mogo Zoo was thankfully saved, due to the perseverance of local zoo workers who stayed to help firefighters protect it.
There are currently fires that will burn for weeks to come in N.S.W, Victoria, South Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. Rain and cooler temperatures here have helped to ease conditions, and we found out this morning that the Mallacoota town fire is officially out, while others across East Gippsland continue.
Our rad volunteer firefighters are to be commended, some leaving the local area (where we are safe) to go and do shifts over in the east, all leaving families and holiday time to help save people, animals and homes. In the face of these extremes Australian people remain resilient, and will head back to their land and farms, ready to clear up after fires. While it can take years, they will revegetate their land and rebuild homes. They have been through a lot, and will need so much help, emotionally, physically and financially.
The readers of Rad Season from around the world can help, with some fantastic fundraisers that can be donated to. Here are some of the best that can help people and animals affected by the Australian bushfires straight away:
Perhaps the most fitting for all radseason readers, Melbourne-based ultramarathon runner, Samantha Gash, and Nic Davidson have created a virtual Relief Run that you can run anywhere in the world. Raising money for the Red Cross Disaster and Recovery Relief Fund, your own run or walk can take place anywhere, at any time on the weekend of Saturday January 18th and Sunday January 19th 2020. There is a 21.1km half marathon and 5km option that you can sign up for.
Groups of people across Australia and around the world have also set community runs so people can gather in certain safe locations and run together. You can see all these locations which are listed on the Relief Run website. As of writing this, they had nearly raised $270,000 and I am sure they will surpass this.
Some of Australia’s most humble and talented citizens are paid and volunteer firefighters. You can help provide resources for them by donating to the fire services in each state of Australia below.
One of the most biodiverse regions of the Earth, the World Wildlife Fund released a statement saying it estimated around 1,25 billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly from fires that have burnt 8.4 million hectares across Australia so far.
They are providing an immediate response to the bushfire crisis and ensuring there are long-term plans to restore what has been lost. WWF are now partnering with wildlife rescue and care organisations in affected states and directing funds so they can respond at scale.
While there is a vast amount of sensationalism in the media that the whole of Australia is ‘on fire’ this is not actually the case. There are massive distances between states, cities and these fire locations. Many people who have booked trips can easily amend itineraries and find they can still travel to many locations in Australia that they had planned to. It’s important to check with tourism bodies to see which areas are safe and which areas are closed.
For instance, while we live in Gippsland (the region is the size of Switzerland), the fires are in East Gippsland and they are located 2.5 hours drive away from us (roughly 160kms). Here in West and South Gippsland, it’s the peak Summer holiday period, we are hearing of some tourism operators that are reporting downturns in accommodation bookings and reduced numbers on tours, when there is no threat of fire whatsoever in this part of the region at this present time.
It’s important to remember that during the rehabilitation of these areas, these amazing natural places need us collectively to help drive business and tourism back there. Many of the spots that have been affected contain amazing natural biodiversity, surfing, sea life such as whales, dolphins and seals, as well as world class food experiences and wineries . Lastly and importantly, you can make a difference by choosing to remember these regions when you are planning your next rad escape Downunder.
Feature image credit: Thick smoke from the East Coast Australian bushfires have enabled photographing the rising sun as though it was the moon. This photo taken in thick heathland bush at trial Bay NSW shows the sun rising out of the ocean coloured by bush/wild fire smoke. Photo by Trevor McKinnon on Unsplash.Last updated on Jan 9, 2020
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