After the fires

Soap Box

In the summer of 2019-2020 bushfire tore through the east coast of Australia. What it lacked in intensity it made up in the sheer scale that decimated many of our national parks and reserves. While much of the focus was on the east coast of Australia, Western Australia, and South Australia also had their share of equally destructive fires. Summer has now passed as has autumn and winter, and now in early spring our thoughts are again imagining what the upcoming summer may bring. In the meantime, many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are taking advantage of the current mild weather to get outside.

Last summer’s fires burned 78% of our local national park, Namadgi, which makes up 46% of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). One thing we need to remember is that while the fires have come and gone, much of the damage remains and some areas are likely to take years to recover. This is a pattern repeated around Australia with many trails and tracks suffering badly with some being totally destroyed. One example is the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail which was destroyed and will take a few years on rebuild simply because of the scale of the damage. On a local scale, trails you may have been familiar with in the past may now look totally different.

In practical terms if you are able to get out and hike in the bush there a few steps to consider:

  1. Travel as local restrictions allow
  2. Before you travel check in with the website for  your destination national park/reserve to identify any closures/closed trail. If in doubt, call the park and talk with the local rangers
  3. If trails are open, be prepared for changed conditions. There will be a lot more fallen trees and track damage than you may be used to
  4. Don’t enter areas designated as closed. The parks services have closed areas for valid reasons which in many cases relate to safety but can also apply to the protection of sensitive ecological areas.

Final thoughts

Gill and I are having to get creative as far as our walks are concerned. A number of walks we had planned to do this year have been put on hold until the fire damage has been repaired and the parks have again been made safe. This is a time to be patient and stay safe but where possible, it is also a time to be creative with your hiking.

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