Through November 2019 the state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the largest city and the capital, has been suffering from a spate of unseasonal bush fires (also known as wildfires). December through to March is normally the season for bush fires and it is inevitable that somewhere in the forested areas of Australia that bush fires will occur at that time. However, this year they have started much earlier in late October and through November in to December.
They start naturally from dry and thunder storm lightning strikes and this has been an integral part of the ecology of the Australian bush land for thousands of years. However, add to the mix the human introduction of cars, electricity poles, cigarettes and arson activity and it means more fires are triggered and burning out of control.
The impacts on humans is more apparent for that fact we in Australia now have a relatively small population of 25 million people but the vast majority of our population is concentrated in major population centres on the eastern coastal strip of the country. Surrounding all of those population centres is thick forest on rural properties and national parks.
The Rural Fire Service of New South Wales does an amazing job to coordinate and take on firefighting efforts, but they are a mostly volunteer organisation so they do the best they can with the people and resources they have available.
They also rely very much on weather patterns and unfortunately weather patterns have not been very favourable to the service over the last month. Strong winds and lack of rainfall has meant that east coast towns and cities have been blanketed with smoke. Embers from existing fires continue to spark new fires so until we get some substantial rainfall we will have to suffer with smoke moving across Sydney.
However, we as a tour operator still wish to give our guests who have arrived here from far and wide the best experience possible. We can still access all the areas we normally tour to, we just need to make some slight modifications to the routes and locations we normally visit due to some closures. If authorities judge that we should not be visiting a certain area our policy of safety first is aligned with those judgements and we will make steps to adapt or alter touring accordingly.
Now, with that in mind, we wanted to present to you some images taken in recent days while the fire activity has been occurring to demonstrate that we can still give you some great touring experiences in Sydney, The Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley and beyond.