The Australian bushfires: feel-good stories despite the devastation

By Lily King

The world has been shocked in the past weeks by the images of devastating bushfires engulfing Australia. The highest possible Fire Danger Rating, catastrophic, has been declared in several locations with the blaze taking a toll on plant, animal and human life, burning through over 12 million acres according to Time Magazine. Despite the devastation, some heart-warming stories have emerged from the crisis…

  1. Knitters all around the world have been making pouches for orphaned baby kangaroos and mittens for injured koalas. Various charities in Australia have even been posting patterns for people to follow to stimulate the aid effort (see Good Morning America for the full story).
  2. A group of teenagers filled their car with injured koalas and their babies in the aftermath of the Kangaroo Island fires. They then drove the animals to a local wildlife centre so that they could be treated for their injuries (see the full story here).
  3. When a group of 12 people and 3 dogs got stranded on New Year’s Eve after escaping the fires in Mallacoota, they started setting up camp in the carpark of a nearby supermarket.  Ibrahim, a Safeway trolley attendant and Sudanese refugee spotted the group and invited them to his flat for the night– and his girlfriend even made a huge meal for them all! (Story from The Guardian).
  4. Rescue dog Bear has been rescuing animals injured by the bushfires.  He is a specially trained animal Detection Dog for the University of the Sunshine Coast (full story at International Fund for Animal Welfare).
  5. Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo has been taking in all sorts of animals from possums to platypuses in the wake of the fires. Despite their in-house hospital specialising in koalas, the vets and nurses are taking care of all the animals that come through their doors (see CNN’s report).
  6. Despite Dr Jeffrey Lee’s GP surgery burning down when the forest fires engulfed his town, he didn’t let that stop him from seeing his patients in Cobargo.  Instead, he took to his motorhome and set his surgery up in there in order to serve those in the community who need him more than ever (see ABC for more details). 
  7. A firefighter has rescued a young koala after he saw it fleeing the fires in the southern part of New South Wales and running towards his water tanker. The koala travelled in the front of the truck with the fireman (see below the incredibly cute photos of the koala on the dashboard) and was very glad to get a well-deserved drink of water. Since then the animal has been handed over to a specialised carer (full story here).

Australia is loved by tourists, with over 700,000 British nationals taking the trip to the other side of the world each year.  If you have a trip to Australia coming up, or are out there now, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/natural-disasters#bushfires to find out what you need to know.

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