- Australia is currently experiencing what is likely its worst bushfire season in history, but I never thought I’d be trapped in it.
- I am based in Melbourne, Australia, but over New Year’s some friends and I decided to go travel towards a popular strip of beach towns on the South Coast of New South Wales.
- During my vacation, much of the region came under threat of bushfires that spread quickly and moved in unpredictable ways. We were evacuated to the beach town of Narooma and were left without power, cell service, and limited emergency supplies.
- I spent my New Year’s Eve in an evacuation shelter alongside thousands of other residents and tourists as bushfires roared all around us. Here’s how it happened.
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I spent my New Year’s Eve in an evacuation shelter along the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia, stranded alongside thousands of other residents and tourists as bushfires roared all around us.
It was certainly not how I envisioned ringing in the new decade when I excitedly booked these travel plans with four friends months ago.
Before the trip even began, we revised our vacation plan several times, copping losses for Airbnbs and campsites that were already paid for but located in areas suddenly under threat of bushfires in the weeks leading up to our trip.
We were careful — to some of my Australian friends, overly so — in crafting our trip. We took every precaution, downloaded every app to keep tabs on bushfire warnings, and shrunk the length of our trip in order to mitigate the danger. We are five smart, young women, travel-savvy and familiar with the areas we were traveling to.
My friends and I are based in Melbourne in the state of Victoria. We decided to drive from Melbourne up the South Coast of the neighboring state of New South Wales, which has seen a tourism boost in recent years thanks to new developments and pristine national parks and beaches. When we left on December 27 bushfires were devastating Sydney and its surroundings. We thought it best to avoid those areas completely.
The first few days of our trip were perfect and featured clear skies and beautiful coastal breezes. We were among the 12.1 million domestic and international travelers who visit the region each year.
The last days of our trip played out like an apocalyptic nightmare, with angry red skies raining hot ash and smoke so dense you could taste it.