Like so many folk I had great holiday plans for most of January and was looking forward to catching up with family and friends. The South Coast of NSW is my normal summer location of choice and this year was no different. However it was an earlier start this summer leaving home on Boxing Day as I was helping my son who was paddling in the George Bass Surf Boat-Surf Ski marathon race. This ocean race which is held every two years starts at Bateman’s Bay and concludes 7 days later at Eden on the far south coast. It’s quite a challenging race and the ocean and weather conditions can make for tough going for the paddlers/rowers but this year as you can guess it was not the ocean throwing up challenges but the catastrophic bushfires that impacted so much of this beautiful region as well as other states.
Two days into the race we were woken early morning at our camping base at Moruya Heads with our phones all going off with an emergency fire warning for our location. Looking to the north the fire (just one of many) could be seen and now like so many other families it was time to pack and move to a safer location. For us the next few days were ones of waiting, power failures, no phone connections, lack of fuel and road closures, however after three or four days we were all home safely, a minor inconvenience suffered. For many others though the fires brought untold lost and pain and the scale of damaged inflicted will take many months and in some cases years to fully comprehend.
The NSW South Coast was hard hit but so many other regions in NSW, Victoria and South Australia also suffered untold destruction and lives lost. The impact of these fires on top of the drought conditions existing is going to be huge and it will take a real effort from all to come back to any sort of normal. But if there is any silver lining in this tragedy it’s the spirit and efforts shown by so many Australians from all over this land to help and lend a hand. This spirit of giving from so many both at home and abroad has been a bright and guiding light in what has been a very dark start to 2020.