Tag: Mr Andrews

Victorians will soon have four bins for their recycling and waste

Melbourne 3000

The Victorian Government will begin rolling out a four-bin kerbside recycling scheme across the state next year and introduce a container deposit scheme by 2023 as part of a $129 million overhaul of Victoria’s recycling industry.

Key points:

  • The plan is expected to reduce waste going to landfill by 80 per cent in ten years
  • Details of the container deposit scheme are yet to be determined
  • Forty local government areas will add a recycling bin for glass only next year with others to make the addition as they sign new kerbside recycling collection contracts

Premier Daniel Andrews said the aim of the overhaul was to reduce the total waste from residents and industry going to landfill by 80 per cent by 2030.

However, Mr Andrews said the details of the container deposit scheme would be finalised following further consultation with industry and local government.

Every other state and territory in Australia has already introduced or announced such a scheme.

Mr Andrews and Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio announced the Recycling Victoria package at Spotswood, where Hobsons Bay City Council has already put a four-bin system in place.

The addition of a bin specifically for glass is expected to reduce contamination and improve the quality and reliability for end users of recycled materials.

Mr Andrews said the extra bins would be paid for as part of the $129 million funding package through the Sustainability Fund.


A NSW Return and Earn recycling booth. (ABC News: Sarah Maunder)

He said the new bins would start to be introduced in 2021 as the kerbside collection contracts for about 40 local governments come to an end.

The remainder of councils will add glass bins as they renew their new kerbside recycling collection contracts.

Waste collection will also become classified as an “essential service”, with a specific act introduced to Parliament and a new statewide waste authority.

Mr Andrews declined to answer questions on measures to improve the disposal and reuse of recycled materials, saying more announcements would be made later in the week.

Inquiry triggered by industry crisis

A parliamentary inquiry last year into recycling and waste management found a container deposit scheme could reduce litter and boost the Victorian Government’s budget by about half a billion dollars over 10 years.

The inquiry was triggered by an industry crisis that led to some recyclers going bankrupt and household recycling in some areas ending up in landfill.

Here’s where Australia’s 67 million tonnes of waste per year ends up
Australia has been in a recycling crisis for nearly two years now, but what happens once we put rubbish in the bin still remains a mystery for many people.

It made 46 recommendations, including creating a container deposit scheme, providing an extra kerbside bin to households and developing the state’s waste-to-energy technologies.

In January 2018, China’s ban on the importation of 24 types of recyclable materials sent Australia’s waste management industry, which indirectly employs around 50,000 people, into a tailspin.

Victoria’s recycling system has been plunged further into chaos after the state’s largest kerbside recycling company was declared insolvent in the Supreme Court.

Victoria last to get on board

In 1977, South Australia set up the first container deposit scheme in Australia, followed by the Northern Territory in 2012, NSW in 2017 and the ACT and Queensland in 2018.

Both Western Australia and Tasmania have also now committed to schemes, leaving Victoria the last state to announce plans to introduce one.

The Victorian Opposition committed earlier this month to introducing a container deposit scheme if it won the next state election to reduce litter and help clubs and groups fundraise.

Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell said the Greens had been campaigning on the issue for more than a decade and welcomed the State Government’s decision.

However, she said the scheme should be established as soon as possible.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Fire chief calls out debate around fuel reduction burns as ‘an emotional load of rubbish’

Melbourne 3000

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has moved to shut down calls for a massive increase in fuel reduction burns, as the state’s fire chief says the debate has involved “hysteria” and an “emotional load of rubbish”.

Key points:

  • Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and others have called for more planned burns in the wake of the bushfires
  • But the Country Fire Authority’s chief officer says the “hysteria” over planned burns is “an emotional load of rubbish”
  • The Premier says the window during which planned burns can be safely attempted is becoming smaller each year

The recent bushfire crises across south-eastern Australia have prompted calls on social media and from former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce for more land to be burnt off during the cooler months to reduce bushfire fuel in summer.

Mr Joyce has attacked Greens politicians for what he says is a failure to support hazard reduction burning during winter, despite such burns being part of Greens policy.

Some residents emerging from the East Gippsland township of Cann River, which was cut off by bushfires which have devastated the region, told the ABC on Tuesday they believe more planned burning should have been done.

Cann River farmer Graeme Connley said residents had been given “no say” in planned burning in their area.


Cann River has been repeatedly threatened by bushfires during the past week. (Facebook: Alison Rainey)

“We’ve been trying since 1983 to get fuel reduction burning done because we had the big fire then,” he said.

“Today, we are being treated like puppets in the bush, we have no say in what is happening [with planned burning].”

Mr Connley said Cann River had lost all of its flora and fauna in the recent disaster.

Are hazard reduction burns effective in managing bushfires?
RMIT ABC Fact Check finds the link between planned burns and the risk of dangerous bushfires can be a complicated one.

During a recent press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the issue of fuel reduction burns was “commonly” raised with him as he visited bushfire-ravaged communities.

He also drew a link between preventative burns and people “who say they are seeking those actions on climate change”, saying they could be the same people who “don’t share the same urgency of dealing with hazard reduction”.

Planned burning ‘not a silver bullet’

Asked about the issue on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Andrews said prescribed burns were part of an integrated strategy focused on protecting life but there were fewer days each year when they could be safely lit.

“Surely no-one is advocating that we put fire into the landscape in an unsafe way. That just wouldn’t be sensible, that would be dangerous,” he said.

He said controlled burns were “not a silver bullet”.

“I think there’s some good examples of where land that had been backburned quite hard — quite heavy fuel reduction burning only three or four years ago — burnt pretty hot last weekend.”

The Country Fire Authority’s chief officer Steve Warrington said there was a “fair amount of emotion” around the issue.

“We’ve had fire down the landscape here that has had burns go right through it [during colder months] and it hasn’t slowed it at all,” he said.


Planned burning has become a hot political issue as the nation grapples with a bushfire disaster. (ABC News: Cameron Best, file photo)

“The emotive argument is not supported that fuel reduction burning will fix all our problems.

“Some of the hysteria that this will be the solution to all our problems is really just quite an emotional load of rubbish, to be honest.”

Mr Andrews highlighted the bungled 2015 planned burn near Lancefield in central Victoria — which destroyed four homes and burnt through more than 3,000 hectares of land — as a reason to exercise caution around burns.

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

About 1,000 people — and their pets — evacuated from Mallacoota on Navy ships

Mallacoota 3892

Some of the residents and holidaymakers who have been stranded in the East Gippsland town of Mallacoota since it was cut off by an out-of-control bushfire have started leaving the area by sea.

Key points:

  • About 1,000 people will leave Mallacoota for the Mornington Peninsula
  • Roads in and out of the town are expected to be blocked for weeks
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

About 4,000 people, including some 3,000 tourists, have been stranded in the town since they were forced to shelter on the foreshore as the fire approached on New Year’s Eve.

About 1,000 people were ferried to the naval vessels HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore.

Those who wanted to leave on the ships registered through a formal process with Victoria Police and the Australian Defence Force (ADF), which are coordinating the evacuation.


Federal MP Darren Chester said conditions were “smoky but fine” as the evacuations got underway. (Twitter: Darren Chester)

Video: Conditions were so smoky yesterday when HMAS Choules arrived, the ship could not be seen from shore.

(ABC News)

Melbourne resident Shaun O’Connor, one of the stranded tourists leaving with the Navy, said he wanted to thank the locals and firefighters who defended lives as the fire hit.

“Couldn’t thank them [the CFA] enough. They saved our lives,” he said.


Shaun O’Connor said he would not be alive if it were not for the firefighters who defended the town. (ABC News)

He left the Bastion Point jetty with his rabbit Thumper, who would be joining him on the journey home.

“I reckon he survived the fire, so I reckon he’ll survive the sea,” he said.

Residents were told during a community meeting last night that only school-age children could be evacuated via boat because evacuees would be required to use ropes to get on board.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.

Video: Evacuees were bussed from Mallacoota's centre to Bastion Point to board the Navy vessel.

(ABC News)


Some evacuees took an amphibious cargo vehicle called a LARC to get to HMAS Choules. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

Melbourne woman Sally, who had been holidaying in the coastal town when fires struck, said that meant her entire family decided to stay behind.

“We’ve got young children and we can get airlifted out — that’s our option because our children are young, but all our possessions are here,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.


Millie the dog was evacuated from Mallacoota with owner George Mills. (Instagram: George Mills)


People and pets wait to board the landing craft at Mallacoota for transfer to the ships. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

“For us to leave and then come back isn’t an easy task.”

Mr Andrews has declared a state of disaster for Victoria, which gives emergency authorities extraordinary powers to respond to the fires.

The federal MP for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said those who had asked to be removed by sea would leave on Friday, bound for Western Port on the Mornington Peninsula.

“It’s a mass relocation of a nature which is completely unprecedented in Gippsland’s history,” he said.

The process of loading the vessels took several hours, and the journey from Mallacoota to Hastings, on Western Port, is expected to take a further 17 hours.


About 1,000 people were ferried to HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore. (Supplied: Department of Defence)


Sailor Afton Mitchell pats dogs evacuated with their owners from Mallacoota. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

Mr Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne the evacuees would be taken from Hastings to Melbourne and regional centres.

Chris Symes, who grew up and started raising a family in Mallacoota before moving to New South Wales, said he would stay behind while his 17-year-old and 11-year-old sons left with the Navy.

Mr Symes said he decided to stay in Mallacoota to help his parents, who still live in the town, with the recovery.


Once aboard HMAS Choules, evacuees were served lunch. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

He said his father’s house survived “by the skin of its teeth” and he wanted to ensure it stayed safe in worsening conditions forecast for the weekend.

“Everyone has been really calm and I think that’s what you usually see in these sorts of situations, everyone pulls together to help each other out and stop worrying about the small stuff,” he said.

Vulnerable and injured flown out

Mr Chester said 25 people were evacuated out of the town on a Spartan aircraft on Thursday night.

“We’ve had people getting out of Mallacoota airlifted out who are vulnerable, super sick, or ill or injured with the Black Hawk helicopters,” he said.


Chelsea Kent was evacuated from Mallacoota to Sale by military plane with her partner Corey Nicholson and daughters Sadie, 3, and baby Milah. (Supplied: Chelsea Kent)

Chelsea Kent and her young family were flown to Sale by military plane overnight and said she “could not thank the Australian Air Force enough”.

Roads in and out of the isolated town, in Victoria’s far east, have been blocked by the still-burning blaze and could take weeks to clear.


Many people in remote communities remain trapped. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

Heavy smoke has hung in the air since the fires first turned the sky bright red as the blaze closed in on Tuesday.

Relief efforts in Mallacoota and around the state — where many people in remote communities remain trapped — have been hampered by continuing fires and smoke.

Video: Defence personnel spent much of Thursday delivering water and relief supplies to the town.

(ABC News)


HMAS Choules arrived yesterday and helicopters and boats helped take supplies to shore. (Supplied: Sean Rainey)

Kevin Glee, a tourism operator in the area, said “probably the worst thing” now the immediate fire threat had passed was the smoke.

“You can’t see too far. The smoke — we’ve been breathing it in for a while. I don’t think it’s real good for anyone,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Mr Chester said the Navy had also sent technicians to the town, which had been without power all week, to restore communications towers.

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Fears for 28 missing in Victoria’s bushfire-ravaged Gippsland


Up to 100,000 Victorians have been urged to leave their homes ahead of worsening bushfire danger as the number of people missing in fire-affected areas rises to 28.

Key points:

  • Six shires and four Alpine resorts will be covered by the state of disaster for a week
  • The Premier said two people had died and 28 were missing
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

Fires in East Gippsland and the north-east of the state have burned through 800,000 hectares, or about 3.5 per cent of the state’s area.

“We literally have hundreds and hundreds of kilometres of active edge, uncontained fire,” said Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp.

“We’ve got a long, long way to go when it comes to fire danger in this state.”

Mr Crisp said there were fears that a wind change tomorrow could cause fires that started in the High Country in recent days to merge with fires burning in East Gippsland.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said strike teams of five trucks each were being placed into communities that could be impacted by fire tomorrow in hot and windy conditions.


Fires have burned through about 3.5 per cent of Victoria’s area. (Facebook: DELWP Gippsland)

The preparations follow Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’s late-night declaration of a state of disaster for much of the eastern half of the state, the first such declaration ever in the state.

The Premier said the declaration provided “for formal evacuations of townships and areas” and sent a clear message that “if you can leave, you must leave”, and would stay in place for a week.

The declaration gives the Government powers to take possession of private property to respond to the fires, control movement in and out of the disaster area and direct any of its agencies to perform or stop performing “any function, power, duty or responsibility”.

Mr Andrews announced the declaration at a late-night media conference in Melbourne, after receiving an updated weather outlook on Thursday evening warning conditions would be even worse than earlier feared.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.

It covers a huge part of the state’s eastern half, including parts of the East Gippsland shire, Mansfield shire, Wellington shire, Wangaratta rural shire, Towong shire, Alpine shire and the Mount Buller, Mount Hotham, Mount Stirling and Falls Creek Alpine resorts.

The state of disaster will remain in place for seven days over much of eastern Victoria.
(Supplied: Emergency Management Victoria)

A similar state of emergency declaration has also been made in New South Wales.

State Control Centre spokesperson James Todd there were “potentially 100,000 people across East Gippsland and the north-east that we’d like to get out of the area, out of the potential impact zone”.

On Friday afternoon, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger said traffic on the roads out of fire-affected areas showed people were listening to the calls to leave.

“We certainly have very clear evidence that people have heeded the warning and we congratulate Victorians for doing that.” he said.

As easterly winds blew smoke from fires in the state’s east to Melbourne, the EPA’s chief environmental scientist Andrea Hinwood urged people who were sensitive to air pollution to take precautions.

“Now is the time to put in place your treatment plan and, where possible, reduce your exposure to the smoke so that you protect yourself,” Dr Hinwood said.

Earlier, Mr Andrews also revealed a second person had died in the crisis, but said it was too early to reveal details about their identity or the circumstances of their death.

He said on Friday morning the number of people unaccounted for in the East Gippsland region had grown from 17 to 28.

“I can confirm today that as at 9:30, there are 28 people that we cannot locate, and we are very concerned about their wellbeing,” he said.

He said a number of those among the original 17 reported missing had been located yesterday.

Video: Entire streets of homes were reduced to rubble in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Fifty fires burn across Victoria

Victorian fire crews are currently tackling 50 ongoing fires, mostly in East Gippsland and the state’s north-east.


More than 780,000 hectares in Victoria have burnt so far. (ABC News: Ben Jaensch)

Mr Andrews said he wanted to send a very clear message by using the disaster declaration, which was a recommendation of the royal commission into the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

“Essentially this declaration is the first time these powers have been used because we face unprecedented risk to life and property in coming days,” Mr Andrews said.

“The fires are unprecedented in their size, their scale and the risk they pose to so many people right across affected communities.


A chimney was all that remained of a house destroyed in a bushfire at Cudgewa. (ABC News: Matthew Doran)

“If you can leave, you must leave — if you don’t we simply cannot guarantee your safety.

“Others may be put into harm’s way in trying to protect you and you may well find yourself isolated and cut-off for an extended period of time following fire activity that will almost certainly occur tomorrow [Friday], Saturday and potentially into Sunday.”

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the coming days would bring unusually low humidity of under 10 per cent.

“What that means is that fires will travel at night,” Mr Crisp said.

“People talk about fires five years ago, and that was not the case — generally fires overnight would settle down and you could, I guess, rest and regroup, but that’s not what we’re seeing.

“We’ve had examples of that over the last few weeks — the Marthavale fire ran 24 kilometres in one night, the Corryong fire nearly 30 kilometres.”

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the powers allowed for arrests if people refused to evacuate or follow other police orders, but authorities were not intending to penalise people.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was confronted by angry protesters in the bushfire-hit town of Cobargo, in south-east NSW.

Video: A group of Cobargo residents vent their anger at the Prime Minister.

(ABC News)

Read the Premier’s declaration:
External Link:

Document: Premier's declaration of a state of disaster

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Towns told ‘we need to evacuate’ before fire risk intensifies in Gippsland

Melbourne 3000

Victorian authorities are ramping up efforts to reach and evacuate cut-off communities in East Gippsland, where 28 people remain missing after destructive bushfires tore through the region.

Key points:

  • Remote communities across the region are either evacuating in convoys or preparing to stay and defend
  • In one isolated town, several residents are relying on a single shared radio at the general store
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

Premier Daniel Andrews said 24 Victorian communities were still isolated by bushfires on Thursday afternoon.

Rescue crews were battling to clear roads to reach them so they could evacuate before the risk increased this weekend, he said.

Nine satellite phones had also been dropped into other isolated communities.

This morning, Mr Andrews said the number of people missing in bushfire-affected areas in Victoria had risen from 17 to 28.

“I can confirm today that as at 9:30am, there are 28 people that we cannot locate, and we are very concerned about their wellbeing,” Mr Andrews told a press conference in Melbourne.

Earlier, a body found in a home at Buchan was identified as 67-year-old Mick Roberts.


Fires have isolated the East Gippsland community of Cann River. (Facebook: Sherylle Holster)

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.

Thirty-nine firefighters from North America landed in Melbourne on Thursday afternoon to join the battle to control the East Gippsland blazes.

The charity group Need for Feed has also organised fodder to be dropped across East Gippsland to help isolated farmers trying to stop their livestock from starving.

On Friday morning some of the 4,000 people trapped in the coastal town of Mallacoota were transported to a Navy ship that arrived in the area the previous day.

They will be evacuated from Mallacoota to Western Port, at Hastings on the Mornington Peninsula, a journey that is expected to take 17 hours.


A contingent of 39 firefighters from North America has landed in Melbourne to help fight the East Gippsland blazes. (AAP: Julian Smith)

Dirt-road convoy gets out of Cann River

A convoy of 46 cars and a bus left Cann River on Thursday afternoon after residents were told trying to leave on Saturday would be extremely dangerous.

The convoy, which included emergency vehicles, was able to leave after crews cleared an old dirt track out of town.

Alison Rainey, who owns a local cafe, said they were all headed to the town of Orbost.

She said some residents who were undecided about leaving had opted to join the convoy after they were told at a briefing that Saturday would be an extremely dangerous day for the town.


The Cann River P12 College kept the community safe when bushfires approached. (Supplied: Joe Stephens)

Ms Rainey — who has decided to stay in Cann River — said her 10-year-old son was with his father in Bonnie Doon.

“Now that the town population has plummeted there’s plenty [of food] to go around,” she told ABC Statewide Drive.

She said she planned to take shelter in the school if things worsened.

“I feel confident that the school will be fine, that we will be protected here, I have no doubt about that.”


Massive smoke plumes could be seen over Bemm River on Thursday afternoon. (ABC News: Ben Jaensch)

Nowa Nowa residents share single radio

Further west, several residents in Nowa Nowa have been relying on a single shared radio at a general store to monitor bushfire warnings.

Nowa Nowa General Store owner Sandra Huggins said the town was confronted by a “massive wall of fire” on Tuesday. She is now concerned about what will happen this weekend.

“Our community hasn’t had power since Monday evening,” she said.

“Because we have no power or phones or internet we’re not getting any of the emergency warnings.

“If we got out of town a few Ks, we all of sudden get ‘ping, ping, pings’ and all these messages.

“It’s a bit disconcerting to learn you’re on Watch and Act, which you didn’t even know.”

A passing tradie left them with a decent radio, which is now located in the only part of town with reception — in the car park outside the store.

“We don’t get radio reception in our store or in our house,” Ms Huggins said.


Sandra Huggins said the radio at the general store was one of the few sources of information from outside the town. (ABC News: Nicole Asher)

“That’s our only contact with what’s happening, we have no idea otherwise.

“It’s very scary, especially with what happened on Monday night and what may happen.”

In the meantime, the community is cooking up the food from their defrosting freezers at a barbecue outside the shop.

“We’re happy to feed anyone who wants to come and eat it,” Ms Huggins said.

Video: Entire streets of homes were reduced to rubble in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Those left in Genoa will face the fires alone

Just north-west of Mallacoota, the small community of Genoa has found itself completely cut off from Victorian authorities as a result of the fires.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said Victorian firefighters had asked their NSW counterparts to help, but even they could not reach the town.

Video: CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington says authorities are working to rescue thousands of Victorians trapped by bushfires.

(ABC News)

He said a police officer had driven from Eden through the fire to get into Genoa and help the community as it was hit by the same blaze that devastated Mallacoota.

On Wednesday, authorities said about 100 people were trapped in Genoa.

David Sykes, who runs the nearby Wallagaraugh River Retreat, said he told his 56 guests to leave the holiday park on Sunday.

He said properties in the area had been destroyed, but most residents had already fled over the border to Eden.

“That is very, very sad, because as much as the fire out in the open has died down and is under control and in private land, you know, now the sad stories are starting to come out,” he said.

External Link:

Daniel Andrews Facebook post from Bairnsdale

Orbost serving as a point of refuge

The town of Orbost, which sits between Bairnsdale and Mallacoota, is serving as the main point of refuge for people leaving some of East Gippsland’s more remote communities.

But some people remain trapped in remote communities to the north, such as Goongerah and Bonang.

Further west, a major relief centre at the Bairnsdale saleyards has been filling up with bushfire evacuees and about 250 horses.

East Gippsland Mayor John White said a backup centre may be needed at the local racecourse.

Video: Bushfires tore through East Gippsland this week and are expected to flare again this weekend.

(ABC News)

Metung told ‘we need to evacuate’

Victorian authorities have told communities to the south and south-east of the Bairnsdale complex of fires that they are under threat and should leave as soon as possible before this weekend’s weather hits.

That message was hardened by Metung CFA Captain Trevor Blundell on Thursday, who told a local meeting that the town needed to be evacuated.

Video: Metung CFA Captain Trevor Blundell told people they were 'not safe'.

(ABC News)

“We are not safe in Metung. We are not safe in Metung. We need to evacuate this town,” he told a crowd through a speaker on one of the brigade’s trucks.

“Holidaymakers, residents, all these people in front of me looking at me, we need to leave Metung.”

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

Nervous wait as naval ship prepares for mass evacuation of Mallacoota

Mallacoota 3892

Residents and tourists stranded in the bushfire-ravaged town of Mallacoota will have to wait until Friday morning to evacuate on board a naval ship that is docked off shore.

Key points:

  • HMAS Choules will evacuate about 800 people on Friday morning
  • It could be weeks before those who do not get evacuated can leave by road
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

About 800 people are expected to board the HMAS Choules when the evacuations begin at 7:00am.

Premier Daniel Andrews said it may be necessary for the ship to make multiple journeys.

“Some people will want to go, some people will be happy to stay,” he said.

There were hopes some of the most vulnerable people in Mallacoota could have been flown out this afternoon, but smoky conditions hindered those efforts.


About 4,000 people have been trapped in Mallacoota. (Supplied: Sean Rainey)

About 3,000 tourists and 1,000 locals are stuck in Mallacoota as roads remain cut off after a fire tore through on New Year’s Eve.

Elsewhere in East Gippsland, 17 people are still missing.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and the evacuations.


Smaller naval boats have arrived at the jetty at Bastion Point. (ABC News: Elias Clure)

Trapped tourists can’t get home

Samantha Corbett was visiting Mallacoota from Kyabram, in northern Victoria, with her extended family.

They rented two homes on the same street and had been looking forward to spending the week together.

Now, she just wants to get out before conditions worsen again on Saturday.

“At this stage we can’t leave Mallacoota. Obviously if they’re evacuating people we will put ourselves in for the register. But at this stage there is no way out,” she said.

“If there is a possibility of getting out, then yep, I’m on the first boat that I can get myself and my family onto.

“But if not, my plan is to be on the waterfront.”

She said the family was doing their best to be self-sufficient and not place additional stress on a town where so many people had lost everything.

“We brought a lot of stuff with us for the holiday house, so we’re quite lucky about that,” she said.

“We brought a lot of water. We’re trying to be really smart about what we’re using and how we’re using it.”


Homes and structures in Mallacoota have been reduced to twisted metal and ash. (Facebook: Jason Selmes)

Evacuation plan based on ADF process

The evacuation is being coordinated by Victoria Police and the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The Premier said people who wanted to leave were being encouraged to register through a formal process.

“People will be encouraged to register through a formal process, a well-established process that the ADF has used in many different parts of the world assisting with evacuating large numbers of people,” Mr Andrews said.

Brigadier Doug Laidlaw said the current plan was to begin transferring people to HMAS Choules around 7:00am.

“An hour or so later hopefully the vessel will be in a position to sail,” he said.

“The intent is to take those people to a Victorian port. As we understand more about the weather a decision will be made about whether that’s Welshpool or Westernport and there are different considerations that apply to each.”

HMAS Choules anchored about 1.5 kilometres off the Mallacoota shoreline this morning, loaded with supplies.

A second navy vessel, the MV Sycamore, has also arrived in the area to help.

Naval fast-recovery crafts have landed at a jetty at Bastion Point, from where emergency authorities will begin figuring out how to get people from hard-to-access parts of the town onto the boat.


HMAS Choules left Sydney on Wednesday, headed for Mallacoota. (AAP: Benjamin Ricketts/Royal Australian Navy)

‘I wouldn’t mind some fresh air’

Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner Chris Stephenson said a number of people wanted to stay behind to get their cars and caravans out of town.

With roads blocked and fires still raging, he warned it “could be two or three weeks” before that was able to happen.

Francesca Winterson, who broadcasts from Mallacoota’s local community radio station, said people were “starting to get incredibly anxious”.

“Because they have been isolated for so long, but they have to accept that right at the moment there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” she said.


Tony Priest said he was waiting to be able to go home. (ABC News)

Musician Tony Priest was visiting Mallacoota with his band when the fire approached.

“In the distant sky, seeing the red, sort of, glow approaching and then the ember attack. It was just terrifying,” he said.

Now, like many people who were visiting Mallacoota and became stranded by the fire, he said he just wanted to go home.

“I wouldn’t mind some fresh air,” he said.

“It would be nice to go back home.”

Locals prepare to stay in ‘caring and resilient community’

The fire danger for most of Victoria is expected to worsen on Friday and Saturday, as hot and windy conditions return.

But resident Gayle Sands said she would stay in the town she called home, even if the option of evacuating was made available.

Her husband Peter decided to stay and defend their house as the fire closed in on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

As I waited on the Mallacoota foreshore, I felt helpless
Gus Goswell recounts the moment he and his family prepared to enter the water as a fire roared towards them like “a freight train” on New Year’s Eve.

“I am sitting at our house thanks to my husband’s efforts at saving it,” she said.

She said she could not sleep as the fire approached the town on Monday.

“We could see the glow of the fire getting closer and closer and in the end I decided I would evacuate to the hall,” she said.

“I needed to relieve the tension of my three children who didn’t think I should stay, knowing that their father is much stronger.”

Her son-in-law, Nicholas, was defending his house in Mallacoota on his own.

“He and Peter had two-way radio communication, Nicholas was on his own and he saved so many places and he put out so many fires with a bucket of water,” she said.

“I feel very positive that the network of the community is happening quickly.

“I am fairly confident we are a loving, caring and resilient community and we get through this.”

More bushfire coverage:

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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