As has been reported in the news, there are large bush fires burning throughout Australia, notably in the states of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. It is important to stay up to date with news and the evacuation zones prior and during your trips. Below is our advice if you have a trip planned to Australia coming up soon.
As one of the worst fire seasons in Australia’s history continues to engulf parts of the country, authorities asked thousands of residents and tourists to evacuate affected areas, and the government announced the large-scale use of military assets to try and tame the fires, leaving some people stranded and those with upcoming trips to the country unsure of whether to visit or not.
Currently, fires are largely burning across the states of Victoria, where Melbourne is; New South Wales, where Sydney is; and South Australia, where Adelaide is. Military ships and aircraft have been deployed to deliver water, food and fuel to towns cut off by the fires, as well as to rescue those who are stranded.New York Times, “What You Need to Know About Traveling to Australia During This Fire Season“
Beyond keeping an eye out on official news sources, here are some tips to consider regarding a trip to Australia.
Read the news
Keeping an eye on local news will be the best way to stay informed of the state of the fires and the areas that are under evacuation. Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia all have pages dedicated to the state of the bush fires and being aware is incredibly important. The state operated fire services in Australia are called “Royal Fire Services” and they have active twitter’s with live updates on the state of the fires (Victoria RFS and New South Wales RFS). If you are planning on camping, check the camp sites or national parks websites directly and be mindful of the rapid changes that occur with uncontrolled wildfires. If you do camp, make sure you are extremely cautious and take a look at these tips for responsible camping during fire season.
Contact your host
People who live in Australia are most likely up-to-date on the state of the fires and whether their area is affected or not. Get in touch and offer to make alternate arrangements if your visit would add any additional stress or take away accommodation from someone in need. It is very possible your host may still be excited for your stay or be in an area that is not threatened by the fires, but being understanding of the potential impact of your stay will be appreciated and may allow them to help someone who is directly affected by the fires.
Changing or Canceling the trip
Consider changing or canceling your trip. Even if your host is not in an affected area or has not asked you to cancel your trip you may still be adding extra stress to both the environment and local community. Many areas throughout Australia are still open and welcoming tourists but do your research ahead of time to ensure you aren’t putting yourself in danger. If you have travel insurance, see if canceling your trip is covered, or contact your airlines and accommodations directly to see if they will allow cancelations or reschedules. Keep in mind that even if fires are not directly where you’re going, it can affect air-quality and trigger respiratory issues like asthma.
If you are financially able, consider donating to charities and organizations that are helping combat the wild fires. There are charities dedicated to local firefighters, animals, and those who have been directly affected. Every dollar helps.
Are you in Australia and able to host? It may be worth while posting a thread or discussion letting people know that if they need to travel you have space for them. An extra room, sofa, or even land to camp on could be incredibly helpful to people in evacuation zones.