It’s been a tough few weeks and months for many parts of Australia as fire has ripped through land and towns and our animals. The plight of our nation caught the world’s attention and assistance has been pouring in from around Australia and the rest of the world. But now the towns affected need a different sort of support—visitors!
Businesses have taken a big hit, including those who survive on tourism where cancellations have hit hard. As roads and business are opening, there’s a host of community-led projects springing up to encourage visitors and spending and helping to get things back on track.
If you’re reading this from overseas, you may be confused about conflicting stories and images. No doubt about it – these fires have been huge and devastating, but Australia is one hell of a massive place so the majority of places were not burning. Here’s a map from Tourism Australia to put it in perspective. Key takeout: there’s still an awful lot to explore that was untouched (enough for ten lifetimes) and even the places affected are filled with welcoming smiles and open arms. For those on the road, the Tourism Australia website also has a lot of up to date information about regions affected for travellers.
So, get out and visit if you can, but if you can’t take a road trip, don’t panic. There are lots of other options to shop or visit ‘virtually’ from the comfort of your sofa and provide support that way. Here are some options:
This is an instagram support account launched by bushfire survivor Turia Pitt to “help rebuild towns and businesses affected by fire.” You can buy all sorts of gorgeous goods from people who haven’t been able to make sales recently, and they are extremely grateful. You can find it here.
Drink with them
Many of Australia’s favourite wine areas have been affected by the fires and many wineries lost everything. The best way to support them is to buy their wine and drink it – how hard is that? You need to buy it directly from them, either from their website or in person if they have a cellar door that’s open, for a quick cash injection as buying from shops already supplied won’t help in the short term.
The Adelaide Hills area was very hard hit. This article from Glam Adelaide gives a good run down of the affected wineries and direct contact details.
Many other areas were affected too including Kangaroo Island, Tumbarumba, the South Coast of NSW, and some in the Canberra region and Hunter Valley. You might like to do some research about those in your local areas. Even if wineries didn’t lose their vines directly, the crops of many others will be affected by smoke taint so they will lose that season’s wine anyway.
So, drink up or go wine touring! Dry July is a long way off.
The Empty Esky Bushfire Recovery is a movement of foodies and adventurers supporting local businesses affected by the fires. Visit their Instagram account to find out all the things on offer— from boutiques, cafes, accommodation, wineries—and some fund raising campaigns as well – broken down into regions on their highlights reel to make it easier. You can register either your business or your esky on their website. One of the businesses there, Harvest Bar at Milton (featured in the image at the top), is running a silent auction on Facebook as well.
For travellers playing to get out and about, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what’s happening on the ground until you arrived. Launched in Melbourne, this new website allows visitors to plan their trips in advance and see which cafes, restaurants, hotels and businesses are open. Using mapping technology, it covers the whole of Australia and listings can be put up for free.
This website has been set up to specifically support the East Gippsland area and while you can’t drop into town at the moment you can “buy’ a virtual coffee or something else from the local businesses and it goes immediately to them. Buy a coffee for a firey.