Your Guide To Have A Better Grasp Of What's Happening In Australia

And how to lend a helping hand to the firefighters and koalas caught in the blaze.

History of bushfires in Australia

The country of Australia is no stranger to bushfires, which can be traced back to as early as 1851, according to the Forest Fire Management of Victoria. The first recorded event took place on February 6, 1851, on what is now known as Black Thursday. Back then, the fires covered one-fourth of present-day Victoria, which was measured at five million hectares. This resulted in the loss of one million sheep and cattle, and an estimated 12 human deaths. These natural disasters occur at an almost biannual rate, with flames consuming millions of acres of farmland, millions of animals, and hundreds of lives. Before the latest bushfire crisis, the Black Saturday bushfires back in 2009 were considered the worst in history with a death tally of 173.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Bushfires are typically caused by lightning and occur during the dry seasons, when temperatures are high, rainfall is low, and the soil is dry. For Southern Australia, this is during the summer and autumn, while for New South Wales and southern Queensland, they are most likely to happen during the spring and early summer.


While bushfires may be considered a nuisance, they have been an essential aspect in shaping Australia’s ecosystem. In history, the fires have played a part in expanding grasslands and making areas conducive for hunting. They've also been known to reduce fuel levels.

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The 2019 to 2020 bushfires in numbers

What makes the current incident different from those in the past? The bushfires that began last September are bigger than anything we’ve ever seen in terms of scale. For starters, satellites can spot the bushfires and their smoke from space. The area covered by smoke currently measures at 1.3 billion acres, according to Science Alert.

It’s damaged over 14 million acres of land and has killed an estimated 500 million animals, including one-third of the koala population (8,000), and has taken the lives of at least 24 people. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, leaving many displaced, while others are trapped in their homes surrounded by a constant orange glow. The blaze covers an area that’s seven times as bad as the 2019 Amazon fires and three times that of the 2018 California fires.


Infographic: The Shocking Size of the Australian Wildfires | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Embed from Getty Images

What action has been taken?

The main bulk of the work in fighting these fires lies in the hands of volunteer firefighting teams, most of whom are risking their lives and working pro bono. To date, there are an estimated 3,000 firefighters on the field on a daily basis. Meanwhile, firefighters from the U.S. and Canada have flown in to help out their Australian counterparts.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been actively issuing statements on the bushfires. On January 2, Morrison held a press conference where he pointedly acknowledged the connection between reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. “Our climate policy settings are to meet and beat the emissions reduction targets, emissions reduction under our government is 50 million tons more than the previous government and we want to see them continue for this country and continue to better the achievements we have already made, with measures that achieve that,” he says.

Two days later, Morrison announced that the federal government has agreed to an earlier request made that will permanently bump up the fund for Australia’s aerial firefighting services. This will give the government a $20 million advantage to lease four firefighting planes on top of the $26 million fund. Military support is coming in in the form of the HMAS Adelaide, the country’s largest warship. Three thousand defense force reservists are also set to be deployed in affected areas to aid in evacuation efforts.

How you can help

While thoughts and prayers are expected during a time like this, action is called for through monetary donations. Public personalities, such as comedian Celeste Barber, have taken to social media to call for donations, with Barber reaching $31 million online in a matter of three days. Here are some of the different ways you can lend a hand:

Donations For Firefighters

Community Relief


Wildlife Protection and Conservation

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.









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If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

They say time heals all wounds, but it has been ages - is heartbreak exempted?

I have forgotten when was the last time we shared a smile - the last time when I saw the glow in your eyes and the last time when you whispered an I love you to me. I have forgotten when, but here I am - writing to you again.

I do not know if you will read this or you will just add this one to my proses and poems that you left unread, but you see, I am still hoping. I am mailing the pain of us to the gods out there - hoping they can take the pain away. I should have gotten over you, but instead of forgetting and accepting our ending, I am writing about us in tissue sheets, carving about us on trees, telling about us on the back of my journals, hoping that a thousand or a million write ups about us, can make me forget about what happened.

I am writing, waiting for the point where I can no longer write anymore, for I have none to tell - but when? I have nothing in me anymore, but the memories of us - and no matter how hard I try put those to its own grave, the memories grow back like lilies in the swamp - painful and beautiful at the same time.

No matter how hard I try to silence those and put it at the back of my mind, those ring back, playing like the favorite song we used to listen. They say heartbreaks turn into poetry and that is what happening to us - but poetry should be dulcet and dreamy, why does ours sound like pain and agony? They say time heals all wounds, but it has been ages - is heartbreak exempted? Darling, I guess not.

Anne Luna A day ago
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