By now, I’m sure you’ve probably heard in the news that Australia is fighting one of the worst ever bushfire seasons, fuelled by record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought.
One of our Ambassadors, Amanda Twine, lives in Brisbane and is currently experiencing first-hand some of the devastation hitting the country right now. We asked Amanda to provide a little insight into the current state of emergency in Australia and list the ways that We Are Travel Girls community members can help those affected by the devastating bushfires.
The Reality For Many Australians Right Now
There isn’t one person in Australia who isn’t somehow impacted by the bushfire crisis, directly or indirectly.
In the days leading up to Christmas 2019, my family farm in the Blue Mountains came under threat from a mega-fire front. We had to change our Christmas plans last-minute. As we gathered at my brother’s house in Sydney, we tried to enjoy the festive season together, all the while hoping and praying that the home we grew up in, would still be there when my parents returned.
It was. We were lucky.
Unfortunately, many other Australians have not been so lucky. So, to give a little insight into the size and scale of the devastation caused by the Australian bushfires, please read on to for some statistics and to learn how you can help.
The Frightening Statistics
The Australian bushfires have been burning non-stop since September 2019. More than 6 million hectares of Australia bush and farmland have been burnt to date. To put things into perspective, that’s bigger than the size of Belgium. More land has been burnt out than the Amazon and Californian fires put together.
At least 22 people have lost their lives and over 1,800 homes have perished.
It’s estimated that half a billion animals have been killed in New South Wales alone. This includes wildlife – kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, cockatoos, possums and many more – as well as pets and livestock.
Of the animals that survived, thousands have been left homeless and disoriented and many will die from their injuries and starvation because their habitat has been completely destroyed. Some species, including koalas, are now facing the threat of extinction.
Most of Australia is currently experiencing a “catastrophic” fire danger rating and a total fire ban has been issued across the country. Traditionally, the dry season in the southern parts lasts until mid to late April, so the threat is nowhere near over yet.
What Areas Are Affected By The Bushfires?
While there are fires burning all around the country, the main areas threatened are the east coast and southern states of Australia, which is actually where the majority of the Australian population resides.
There are more than 270 fires burning. The following areas have either been burnt out or are currently in a state of emergency:
- New South Wales – parts of the Blue Mountains, many coastal and inland regions between Brisbane and Sydney, the Hunter Valley, the Snowy Mountains region, and coastal regions to the South of Sydney.
- Victoria – East Gippsland and the Victorian Alps.
- South Australia – Kangaroo Island and some of the wine regions around Adelaide.
- Tasmania – some areas in the northeast.
- Western Australia – some inland areas near Esperance.
Although the major cities of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide haven’t been ravaged by fire, they have been impacted by very high levels of smoke.
How Can You Help?
I’ve had several friends from overseas contact me, expressing how they feel so helpless and asking how they can contribute. Below is a roundup of registered non-profit and volunteer organisations (including links) that are accepting donations for those affected by the bushfires.
Supporting Australia’s Injured And Homeless Wildlife
- WIRES (Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service) – a not-for-profit service dedicated to rehabilitating injured wildlife, is accepting donations to pay for items such as food, medical supplies and vet fees.
- Wildlife Victoria – supporting wildlife shelters and carers in Victoria that have been inundated with injured animals.
- RSPCA – a non-profit organisation supporting members of the public keep their pets and livestock safe from the fires and caring for injured animals.
- WWF Australia – helping to save wildlife after the fires and restore native habitats.
- Animals Australia – providing immediate support to wildlife vets to travel to fire-devastated areas to help any surviving animals with much-needed support.
Supporting Australian’s Who Have Been Left Homeless
- Salvation Army – proceeds go to providing support, including meals and bedding to evacuees and frontline responders.
- Australian Red Cross – donations will go to supporting thousands of people in evacuation centres and providing emergency support (including cash and trauma counseling) to people who have lost their homes.
- Victorian Bush Fire Appeal – 100% of donated funds will go to bushfire victims who have lost everything.
- GIVIT – 100% of funds received support people in devastated communities.
Supporting Those On The Front Line – Australia’s Firefighting Services
The donations raised by the following state fire services will be divided between helping local brigades, first responders and volunteers that support the local communities as well as the victims affected by the fires.
Please Don’t Cancel Your Plans To Visit Australia
You’ve probably seen some pretty frightening scenes of the Australian bushfires on the news and social media of late. But please remember that Australia is a large country. While the bushfires are impacting many local communities, the vast majority of Australia’s tourist hotspots remain largely unaffected.
Queensland and the Northern Territory are currently in the wet season and there are no major fire threats. The Great Barrier Reef remains untouched by the fire. As does the Great Ocean Road, Brisbane, Perth, Uluru, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Fraser Island and the Kimberly Region. Many tourism businesses around the country are still operating.
Once the smoke clears, the cities of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Adelaide will return to normal and tourism in these cities will be largely unaffected.
Australian’s are doing it tough right now. And the thing that is really going to hit hard, is the aftermath. Once all the fires are put out and mainstream media moves onto other news, there will be hundreds of communities suffering due to lack of tourism.
So, come and visit our wildlife sanctuaries and know that your entry fee will go to helping koalas, kangaroos and other wildlife affected by the fires. Come and buy our local wines so that the wineries that have been destroyed can afford to rebuild. Come and see that the Blue Mountains, although 80% of is burnt out, it is still offering some of the most stunning views in the world!
Please don’t cancel your plans to visit Australia!
If you have any questions or advice for how people can contribute or help Australia during this time, please leave these in the comments below.
Read More About Australia
- Top 10 Places to Visit in Tasmania
- 5 More Reasons to Visit Tasmania
- Road Trip Through Western Australia
- An Insiders Guide To Sydney
- 7 Things You Can’t Miss In Brisbane
- 4 Scenic Places To Visit In Margaret River
This website may use affiliate links in our articles. Please see our Disclosures for more information.