As I left Gerringong on the NSW South Coast on the weekend to return to Sydney I spotted a sign on the side of the road that read: please come back in winter. It seems contrived to be thinking about travel and holiday plans when there is ongoing devastation across Australia. The loss of life and wildlife, destruction of homes, property and habitats is unfolding at a scale that is unfathomable, but that sign is a message that will become a call to action in the months and year ahead. Our travel plans – and the tourism dollars that we bring with us – will play a major role in helping communities recover and rebuild after the fires.
Australian Traveller will continue to publish content on where to travel in Australia. In the short term we will avoid promoting travel to destinations that are currently under threat but as soon as it is safe and reasonable to do so we will be encouraging our readers to travel to the areas that need it most – whether that means booking a holiday or rescheduling one that you were forced to cancel over the summer.
We’ve received many questions on how to know whether it is safe to travel to a destination that is in the fire affected zones across Australia, especially in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. While we can’t offer specific advice on whether you should cancel your travel plans we have put together a list of tips and resources to help you make the decision if there is no clear direction from authorities. More importantly, we also have details on where to give and what you can do to help those most in need.
How to monitor Australia’s bushfires
There are active fires burning out of control around Australia and the following states have resources available to provide you with up to date emergency warnings on areas near you or a destination of importance to you.
Visit the Country Fire Authority website
Download the VicEmergency App
Follow the VicEmergency Twitter account
Connect on the ABC Gippsland Facebook page
New South Wales
NSW Fires Near Me website and app
Visit the Tasmanian Fire Service website
Connect on the Tasmania Fire Service Facebook page
Check the South Australian Country Fire Service
Visit Emergency WA
Visit the Queensland Government Rural Fire Service website
How to check for road closures
If you are heading to a destination that is not currently impacted by bushfires and you are planning on driving then you will also need to check your journey doesn’t take you through fire affected zones and road closures.
Live traffic updates are available across the country and we’ve listed the best resources by state below.
VicTraffic and via the VicTraffic App for Apple and Android
New South Wales
Live Traffic NSW and via the Live Traffic NSW App for Apple and Android (note: you can create a free account and set up an email alert before you hit the road to advise you on traffic hazards along your journey)
Traffic SA website
Check breaking news and emergency broadcasts
The situation is rapidly changing across the country and you can stay up to date via the ABC emergency broadcaster in each state and territory.
ABC New South Wales and ACT
ABC South Australia
ABC Western Australia
You can also follow these Twitter hashtags:
#ausfires, #bushfiresaustralia, #nswfires, #vicfires, #tasfires, and #wafires.
Contact your accommodation
If you are still unsure about whether your travel plans will be impacted by the fires you can contact your accommodation directly to seek advice.
How you can help Australia’s bushfire victims
Make a donation
The following organisations and charities are seeking cash donations to provide relief and help to firefighters, wildlife and those who are in need of shelter, food, water and emergency cash grants. If you have goods you would like to donate, GIVIT (listed below) accepts item donations in addition to cash transfers.
Victoria’s Country Fire Authority
NSW Rural Fire Service
Australian Red Cross
St Vincent de Paul Society
Bendigo Bank Bushfire Disaster Appeal (Vic)
Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund
World Wildlife Fund
GoFundMe pages for Mallacoota and Cudgewa in Victoria
Airbnb: you can list your property as available for emergency housing via Airbnb in NSW and Victoria
Money-free ways to offer support
If you are unable to provide financial support at this time Ligne Studio, a Brisbane graphic design studio, has created an incredible graphic that has been shared on Instagram to outline the other ways you can make a difference during the bushfire crisis. They include donating your time by volunteering, visit change.org to sign various petitions that will put pressure on our government to take action on climate change, including writing letters to your local member of parliament, as well as following drought restrictions and fire bans.
Reschedule your holiday – don’t cancel where possible
If it is unsafe to travel to your holiday destination check if you are able to reschedule instead of cancelling. In the short term your donations will make the biggest difference to bushfire affected communities and in the long term we will be encouraging readers to plan to travel in support of these same communities once they are back on their feet.