Everybody heard about the bushfires which spread over Australia 2019 to 2020. We want tell you about our road trip from Melbourne to Brisbane, where we experienced some of these and helped where we could. During our first week traveling along the great ocean road near Melbourne everything was beautiful. We always stayed on free camping places where you could watch the beautiful wildlife passing by. One of our favorite places was on a sports ground in Timboon, where koalas chilled in the trees above our tent. Being so close to wildlife like koalas, kangaroos and a lot of parrots was just amazing.
After the great ocean road, we drove up to Jervis Bay where we were confronted for the first time with the bushfires. Around this area a lot of camping sides were already closed and evacuated due to bushfires. Luckily, we found an amazing place in the kangaroo valley. We will never forget this place with it´s pure wildlife atmosphere. While sunset a lot of wombats came out of their holes or kangaroos crossed our tent next to us while we were cooking our dinner. In the night you could hear how more and more animals came out. We could hear the kangaroos jumping and the wombats chewing grass besides our tent. It was just amazing. The sadder it was when we had to leave after two days because the whole area got evacuated due to the approaching bushfire. We felt very sad and had a lot of thoughts about what would happen to this beautiful wildlife place if there would be a huge fire.
Cause we had to move on we drove on towards Sydney. On the way, a roadblock stopped us. We were lucky and circled the area extensively, while we made our way through thick yellow clouds of smoke which came from bushfires far away. It was a wired feeling driving through clouds with a smell of burned wood. Since there was no open camping site in Sydney anymore, we drove to the Blue Mountains. There we had chosen 4 campsites thanks to the Australian application CamperMate. Two of them were closed. So, we didn’t have many options before nightfall and we took the next free spot where some campers were already squeezed. The next day we drove to the famous viewpoint of the Three Sisters and their beautiful forest landscape. Unfortunately, this view was dominated by many clouds of smoke, which made their way through the trees. Although there were less tourists there than usual, some of them posed with their best smiles for a Selfie while the forest was burning in the background. In our opinion not, the best way to take a selfie. A bit shocked we moved on to Sydney City. When we arrived there the whole city was covered by a yellow veil. The sun was only visible as a red ball of fire in the sky. This sight was offered to us also the next couple of days. Depending on the direction of the wind the city was covered in clouds and smell of burnt forest. Where ever we went there was no escape even Palm beach was covered the whole day a yellow filter.
After Sydney we visited a friend in Newcastle where we stayed for a couple of days and weren´t confronted with the bushfires. On the last part from Newcastle to Brisbane there was no camping site left which were not closed cause of the bushfires. So we had to drive directly to Brisbane with a short brake at Byron Bay to cook dinner. In Brisbane things seemed to be a little better. Some islands and beaches were closed, but that was not dramatic. It even rained over the Christmas holidays. However, things got pretty serious between Victoria and New South Wales (i.e. Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra) in the next weeks. If we would have started 2 weeks later there would be no option of driving along the east coast because the bushfires were everywhere.
That was the time when many heartbreaking videos were found on the internet about people saving koalas from the streets and giving them water. At that time many relief organizations had already been founded, but all of them were out of our reach. Australia is just not like Germany. It is huge. And whoever has ever driven from Sydney to Brisbane (about 11 hours) knows how much effort it takes. Anyway, we would also have liked to take the car to look for injured animals. Since this was not possible, we searched for alternatives for a long time.
One evening Lisa found an organization that sews small bags for animals that are injured or have lost their parents in the fire. We contacted them directly and went the next day to the sewing bee meeting in a primary school. Nobody knew us here or was expecting us, but we were welcomed with open arms and were given a task directly. Erik, who we had simply taken with us, first sorted bags according to their size and then cut new fabrics with us. For each bag an outer bag was made of cotton and an inner bag of fleece. The fabrics were private donations, old sheets or T-shirts. So, the animal rescue stations got these bags from many of these sewing bees and then had the possibility to change the inner fleece bags as soon as they were dirty. We were very enthusiastic about the commitment of the ladies. And they also inspired us to go to the sewing machines ourselves. First Franz, as the only man there, took a close look at everything. When he had finished sewing his first bag, it was Erik’s turn and in the end he was very proud of his bag. After I sewed one more bag together, it was already 4 hours later and so we drove back totally happy, because we really had the feeling to have done something good 🙂
Besides this we also donated money to some fire brigades (NSW & VIC) and aid organizations because we couldn´t help directly in the bushfire areas. If we hadn´t our onward flight to Pakistan and the wedding we would take a car and drive down to help and stay longer in Australia. But the Australians are really strong people on earth. Many volunteers for many such projects, even if there is no fire or emergency, helped.
Our aim with this article is to show you that if you are on the road always be prepared for the unexpected and be flexible. Also, if something bad happening try to help even if it´s just for 1 day. Everything makes a change!
The whole Australian bushfires made us think about a general problem. We were so happy that the whole world helped Australia with every kind of support but where was the help of the world when just some month before a huge part of the Amazonas in South America was burning?
What did these people do there? How many people helped there? How many people gave donations there? Not many….
The countries of South America like Bolivia, Peru or Brazil have much less assets and just as much nature and forest that should be protected. Unfortunately, our media do not report everything that happens and only uses or pushes the topics that are trendy at the moment or happening in rich countries. In our opinion that´s not the right way and we would love to motivate people to think about this problem. If your interested in some infos about the bushfires of the Amazonas check out the video of our friends from ONCA who went in the Amazonas and rescued a small baby capuchin monkey.
All in all, our message is:
Save our nature- Stop bushfires, everywhere in the world, we need forests, trees and plants to survive and so do all these incredible animals who are living there!!!