Tag: New South Wales

Outback kids hit the mud as severe storms rumble across much of Queensland

Cunnamulla 4490

Severe thunderstorms are rumbling across parts of Queensland’s central interior from the coast to the outback, with many regions that had been struggling through drought now receiving drenching rain.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said in its warnings abut 7:30pm that severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and heavy rain that may lead to flash flooding would impact parts of the South Burnett and Toowoomba council areas.

Locations that may be affected include Dalby, with the storms moving towards the east.

Other areas affected include the Central Highlands and Coalfields, Wide Bay and Burnett and Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts.

The BOM also said damaging winds and large hailstones from severe thunderstorms would also affect parts of the North Tropical Coast and Tablelands, Northern Goldfields and Upper Flinders, Herbert and Lower Burdekin, Central Coast and Whitsundays, Central Highlands and Coalfields, Central West, Channel Country and Maranoa and Warrego districts.

Areas that may be affected include Thargomindah, Charters Towers, Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Isisford, Barcaldine, Collinsville, Ingham and Lucinda.

Some western parts of Queensland have already received decent rain over the last 48 hours.

For locals in tinder-dry western Queensland, the downpours have turned the red earth into mud pits ripe for fun.

Video: Rain across western Queensland welcomed by children who make their own fun.

(ABC News)

‘They just loved it’

Fred Wharton and his family had been enduring 46 degree Celsius days at Cunnamulla, before the rain came late Wednesday with about 33 millimetres recorded.

“It’s the best rain I’ve seen here for a while,” Mr Wharton said.

“There was two little bursts of it, the first one seems to be the heaviest of it and then there was a follow up little storm after that.

“Next minute I hear the young fella’s outside screaming, went outside and here they are running up and down in the water — they just loved it.”


Children at Springsure in central western Queensland enjoy the mud after some much-needed rain. (Supplied: Chantal Iker)

Mr Wharton captured video his nephews frolicking in the mud.

“Talking to the old people here they said this is the driest they have ever seen Cunnamulla in a lifetime,” he said.

Showers and thunderstorms rolled across the west, central interior and into parts of the south-east overnight.

Blackwater, north-east of Cunnamulla, received 63mm, Richmond had 44mm and other regions received between 25 to 40mm.

“The inland activity in the west was more extensive that what we’d typically see for shower and thunderstorm activity and so we did see a few good falls,” Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Matthew Bass said.

More showers and storms are likely Friday, from the Peninsula and Gulf down through the west to the New South Wales border.

“This inland trough really is bringing quite a few showers and storms,” Mr Bass said.

“It is pretty normal this time of the year to be seeing shower and thunderstorm activity across Queensland and I guess it is noteworthy because it has been so dry particularly out in the west.”

Dust haze to impact south-west of state

Despite rain in some parched areas of Queensland, BOM forecaster Rosa Hoff said dust haze had been covering other parts of the south-west this morning.


The dust haze could be seen over Thargomindah on Wednesday afternoon just before a storm hit the area. (Supplied: Janet Beetson)

“We can see on our satellite image that some dust has been picked up from South Australia and some possibly from areas of New South Wales as well and it’s blowing towards areas such as Birdsville,” she said.

“This area of dust is only affecting the south-west at this time, that’s because it’s been picked up behind a surface level trough which is lying through the interior, generally south of around Mt Isa and it’s then going down towards the Maranoa Warrego district.

“We’re expecting this dust activity to be confined to areas to the south and west of this trough.”

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

My mid-life crisis is cheaper than a younger bloke, but a bit more accident prone


When I was a kid, all I wanted for Christmas was a pony.

Just after my 52nd birthday, Santa finally delivered.

I’m now the ridiculously excited owner of a sweet-natured, 10-year-old mare named Reyn.

How did a city slicker who grew up in the suburbs end up happily stomping through muddy paddocks with dirt under her nails and poo on her boots, my friends and family have wondered.

It’s my mid-life crisis.

“Better than me running off with a younger bloke,” I tell my poor suffering husband.


Owning a horse is an expensive hobby, but have you priced golf clubs lately? (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

“I think a new bloke would be cheaper,” he shoots back.

It is an expensive hobby, but have you priced golf clubs, bikes and boats lately?

I didn’t just saddle up on a whim

Ok, maybe horses are a tiny bit more costly — several thousand dollars for a good one and several hundred dollars per month in agistment.

Don’t forget to factor in feed (prices are high due to the drought), tack (believe it or not saddles can cost almost as much as the horse), clothing (important to look the part), farrier (between $80 and $150 every two months depending on whether your horse is barefoot or shod), an equine dentist (yes, horses need their teeth filed down once a year) and vet fees (I clocked up $800 for three visits in four weeks, but more on that later).


My animal-loving teenage daughter and I started having riding lessons about four years ago. (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

I may as well have simply opened my wallet and set fire to $100 bills.

But after a couple of life-threatening illnesses in the past few years, I’m big on fulfilling lifelong dreams — although I do sometimes question the logic of having cheated death twice and then taking up a hobby riding an animal that often tops the charts among Australia’s most dangerous.

They can kill with a kick and a highly-tuned flight response means they can be spooked and bolt by the sight of a mere plastic bag drifting in the breeze.

For that reason, I didn’t just saddle up on a whim.


My daughter and I did several trail rides and then leased a horse at a riding school for a year. (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

My animal-loving teenage daughter and I started having riding lessons about four years ago, did several trail rides and then leased a horse at a riding school for a year.

The owner taught us all aspects of horse care, handling and safety.

We were on a massive learning curve and got off to a bad start when we lassoed the wrong horse on the first day.

Both were grey and about the same size, although we just needed to look underneath to realise our mistake. Our horse was a boy and we’d caught a girl.


There were plenty of horses for sale online, but making an informed choice can be difficult. (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

Honesty is in short supply when you’re buying a horse

Eventually, we felt confident enough to buy our own. But how to go about it?

“Whatever you do, don’t buy a thoroughbred,” every experienced horse person I knew told me.

It was around the time of the 7.30 investigation into the treatment of retired racehorses which exposed the problem of overbreeding and wastage.

Footage of slaughtered racehorses ‘will shake the industry to its core’
An extensive ABC investigation has revealed the widespread slaughter of racehorses for pet food and human consumption at abattoirs and knackeries in New South Wales and Queensland.

There were certainly plenty for sale online (and cheap). Rehoming a racehorse seemed like a good thing to do, but it’s not like rescuing a greyhound.

While there are programs dedicated to retraining racehorses for equestrian and recreational riding, I quickly realised that they’re mostly for experienced riders — not a novice like me.

Never has “buyer beware” been more necessary than when purchasing a horse. Honesty is in short supply when someone is trying to unload a troublesome horse.

I’ve heard numerous horror stories of people who’d bought a horse advertised as healthy, calm and with no vices only to discover when they brought it home that it was anything but, having apparently been drugged to mask injury, lameness or behaviour problems.

So, the best advice I got was to buy from someone you know, and trust, or who knows the history of the horse. Which is what we did.

They have an uncanny knack for getting into trouble

Having found a horse perfectly suited in purpose and temperament for us newbies, we thought the hard part was over.

But as it turns out, horses have an uncanny knack for getting into trouble — and our lovely mare proved to be a bit accident prone.


Reyn ripped a shoe off and was a bit lame, which meant we couldn’t ride her and required a special visit by the farrier. (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

When she walked off the float that was delivering her, she had a fist-sized hematoma (swelling) on her chest, having apparently bumped herself on the trip to the agistment property.

That caused a few days of anxiety but settled down. Then she ripped a shoe off and was a bit lame, which meant we couldn’t ride her and required a special visit by the farrier.

Just as that was coming good, she had a sudden (and scary) onset of colic — abdominal pain which can become life-threatening — and needed after-hours emergency treatment by the vet.

Her upset stomach could have been triggered by ovulation (who knew horses could get PMS?) or grazing on sandier soil than where she’d been, the vet thought.

“Give her some psyllium husk every month to flush the sand out,” he said.

“And by the way, she’s overweight with small feet, so you better get some weight off her pretty quickly or she’s at risk of laminitis [a crippling condition of the feet also known as founder].”

I thought I’d done the right thing in choosing an agistment property with lush green paddocks, but now the spring grass could be deadly?


I thought I’d done the right thing in choosing an agistment property with lush green paddocks, but now the spring grass could be deadly? (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

It was high in sugar and poor Reyn only had to look at it to start stacking on the kilos. I knew her pain only too well.

So, like all of us desperately trying to lose weight before summer, she was put on a strict diet and exercise regime.

No delicious grass, just tasteless, low-sugar hay to munch on.

The hard work and worry is worth it

There have been moments on this ride into horse ownership when I’ve asked myself, “What the hell was I thinking?”.

At times I’ve felt the same kind of “I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing” terror I experienced as the mother of a newborn baby.


There have been moments on this ride into horse ownership when I’ve asked myself, “What the hell was I thinking?” (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

Can I actually keep this horse alive?

“That’s just life with horses,” my horsey friends reassure me.

They’ve all got wild stories of various dramas, including one whose horse tried to jump a fence and got stuck two legs on either side of the top rail. She had to actually dismantle the fence to free it.

But being connected and in sync with your horse — albeit, often only fleeting moments for beginners — is a seductive bliss that makes all the worry and hard work worth it.

Reyn is now in great shape (fingers crossed) and my daughter and I are back in the saddle, riding every second day over the summer holidays and enjoying the best Christmas present ever.


Being connected and in sync with your horse makes the worry and hard work all worth it. (Supplied: Natasha Johnson)

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

‘Just perfect’: Man who lost everything in bushfire snags $1 million lottery win

Brisbane 4000

A Queensland man whose uninsured family home was destroyed by bushfire late last year has won $1 million in a lottery that will allow him to rebuild.

The winner — who wished to remain anonymous — is from Mount Cotton in Redland, south of Brisbane, but owned a family property in a part of northern New South Wales hit by the fires.

Lauren Cooney from The Lott notified him of the win on Thursday morning and said he was incredibly emotional.

“He told me his family had just lost their home in the bushfires,” she said.

“The home wasn’t insured, so this prize meant that they would be able to rebuild which initially, they thought they wouldn’t be able to,” she said.

The man detailed how his family had returned to the property several weeks ago, which was said to be “very sentimental and special to them”.

“They were going through the site looking for any special family mementoes that they could salvage, but all they could find was some teacups.”

The man held the only division one winning entry to Wednesday night’s draw, claiming all of the $1 million prize.

He told Ms Cooney the circumstances surrounding the win were “just perfect”.

“He said he couldn’t have imagined more impeccable timing which meant that he could use his prize to rebuild their family home,” Ms Cooney said.

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

Drumlines rolled out after 4m great white spotted at Gold Coast beach

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An international conservation group says Queensland’s shark control program is “lagging far behind” other states — and countries — after more drumlines were installed on the Gold Coast.

Key points:

  • A shark control manager says new drumlines on the Gold Coast are a precautionary measure after multiple shark sightings
  • The Humane Society International says the move ignores overwhelming scientific evidence and a legal case
  • There is a push for Queensland to follow New South Wales and trial high-tech ‘smart drumlines’

Six drumlines have been installed 400 metres off Palm Beach after a four-metre great white shark was spotted in recent weeks, and days after a diver was killed by a shark off Western Australia’s south coast.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the drumlines will be in place “as long as they need to [be]”.

“Human life is absolutely paramount,” she said.

“When we get that information we have to act, and they’ve acted quickly.”

But Humane Society International (HSI) said the decision flies in the face of scientific evidence and will put marine ecology at risk.


A still from vision taken by conservation group Sea Shepherd showing a dolphin tangled in a drumline off the Gold Coast. (Supplied: Sea Shepherd )

New drumlines a ‘precaution’

Michael Mickitis, the manager of Queensland’s Shark Control Program, said the drumlines at Palm Beach are a precautionary measure.

“We’re hoping the shark actually moves off of its own accord,” he said.

“Obviously the other alternative is that we catch the shark.

“We’ll be assessing the situation everyday and we’ll remove the drumlines as soon as the immediate risk has passed.”

Mr Mickitis said installing drumlines after individual shark sightings is not a regular practice, but he said that the shark had been in the area for longer than normal.

He said 40-60 sharks are caught in drumlines on the Gold Coast annually, but ‘occasionally’ other animals like dolphins, rays, whales and turtles are also caught.

“We do everything we can to try and minimise the by-catch including deterrents and alarms on the nets, and alternatives baits on the drumlines,” he said.

“We have trained people that go and release those animals as quickly as possible.”

Answers still slipping through the net

In April 2019 Humane Society International won a legal bid with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to stop the killing of sharks caught in drumlines within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The State Government later lost an appeal and removed the drumlines after Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said authorities could not “immediately or safely comply” with the tribunal’s findings.


A 2015 trial of drumlines in NSW caught 43 sharks, including this great white. (Supplied: Department of Primary Industries)

In its decision, the tribunal stated that culling sharks caught in the drumlines “does not reduce the risk of unprovoked shark interactions”.

“The scientific evidence before us is overwhelming in this regard,” the tribunal said.

Mr Mickitis said the Government’s position is that “human safety comes first.”

HSI marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said the Queensland Government should be “acutely aware” of the tribunal’s findings and that the state is “lagging far behind”.

“Queensland’s marine ecosystems are the crown jewel of the ocean environment in this country, and one would say perhaps the whole world,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“Yet it’s one of the only places on the planet where lethal culling still exists.”

Drumlines a ‘good response’: Opposition

Opposition spokesman for Environment and Tourism, David Crisafulli, said the installation of drumlines on the Gold Coast should be a catalyst for reinstalling them in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.


David Crisafulli says drumlines are needed, and should be more widespread. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“Drumlines are effective and they are the right response,” Mr Crisafulli said.

“If it’s good enough for one part of Queensland, it should be good enough for everywhere.”

In September, the State Opposition committed $15 million to install high-tech ‘smart drumlines’ in the marine park, similar to those trialled in New South Wales.

The smart drumlines alert a fisheries operator when an animal is caught, and the animal is then tagged and relocated.

Mr Chlebeck said New South Wales, and other countries, have had positive results with the technology, but that it will take additional training and resources.

“When these sharks are tagged you get a better idea of shark movements,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“Any bit of research, any bit of education is going to improve people’s safety in the water more than just killing a few random sharks in the area.”

‘People versus sharks’ the wrong debate

Mr Chlebec said human safety must be a top priority, but that the political debate around drumlines and culling has become misleading.

“It’s important to take this debate away from people versus sharks,” Mr Chlebeck said.

“There’s better ways to protect people in the water, especially on the Gold Coast — things like drone surveillance, personal shark deterrence, education.”


Alex Carvalho and Jimmy Martinovich do not support the drumlines at Palm Beach. (ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Palm Beach resident Alex Carvalho said the drumlines at his beach are “no good at all”.

“There is no shark problem mate,” he said.

“We don’t see them a lot.”

Byron Bay local Jimmy Martinovich said, “we know the risks when we go into the water, and sharks are in the water.”

“It’s just doing its thing, it’s just living its life,” Mr Martinovich said.

“If there’s a way for them to not have to kill the shark and they can move it on, I think that’s a better idea.”

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

Difficult day burns long into night: As it happened


The fire situation in Victoria and New South Wales is still very volatile and fire crews are expected to battle blazes all through the night with New South Wales still experiencing strong wind gusts.

Multiple fires are burning at emergency level in both states, while in South Australia lives were lost on Kangaroo Island in a day of tragedy.

Look back at how the day unfolded on Saturday.

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

NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott labels his absence during bushfires ‘inexcusable’


NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott, who went on a European holiday during the ongoing bushfire crisis, has labelled his absence “inexcusable”.

Key points:

  • Mr Elliott said he “should have put [his] RFS family first”
  • NSW is in a State of Emergency, bracing for catastrophic conditions on Saturday
  • The NSW bushfire death toll rose to 17 on Friday

Mr Elliott had been away in Europe as the bushfires ravaged much of the country and his state of New South Wales.

On Friday night, he tagged himself in a social media post as being at the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and admitted his decision to leave the country for a holiday was not the right one.

“Just received the evening briefing from Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers ahead of tomorrow’s Statewide Total Fire Ban and Extreme Fire Danger,” Mr Elliott posted on his Facebook account.

“My absence over the last week was inexcusable.

“I should have put my RFS family first and foremost given the current conditions [even my own family acknowledge that] and now it’s time to get back to work.”

Mr Elliott went on to say he is most concerned for some of the areas that have already been decimated by the bushfires raging across the state, with catastrophic conditions predicted at the weekend.

“The areas of most concern tomorrow are the South Coast, Wollondilly and Snowy Mountains and we will have 3,000 firefighters in the Area of Operations with a further 600 on standby to be deployed at short notice,” Mr Elliott wrote.


Evacuees on a beach at Batemans Bay amid bushfires across the NSW South Coast. (Twitter: Alastairprior)

“On top of that we have 104 aircraft providing air support to the more than 700 appliances.

“The good news is that after tomorrow’s extreme weather we should have a week of milder conditions which should provide relief to the firefighters and an opportunity to start the process of containment.”

At a press conference on Saturday morning, Mr Elliott was asked if he planned to resign.

“I came back to step up, not step down,” he said.

The RFS had already said that Saturday will be a “bad day”.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers warned southern areas of New South Wales would be in the most danger.

“It is likely we will see some areas during the day reach the catastrophic forecast, particularly in the southern part of New South Wales,” he said.

“Obviously we are gearing up to that and while it is rated extreme it is in the upper end of extreme and it will be a bad day. Whatever the rating is, it will be pretty bad.”


Much of Cobargo, New South Wales, has been destroyed. (Supplied)

Deputy Commissioner Rogers said authorities were as ready as they would ever be.

“This state of readiness for New South Wales can’t be matched anywhere. We are as ready as we can be,” he said.

The fears for the catastrophic weekend conditions come as the NSW death toll rose to 17 on Friday.

Authorities announced a man had died from injuries he sustained in a fire in the Northern Tablelands last year.

It is believed the 59-year-old man suffered serious burns after taking shelter in a water tank during the Stockyards Flat fire in November.

He was airlifted to the Royal North Shore Hospital for treatment but died on Sunday.

So far since Monday, eight people have died.

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

Scientific modelling ‘not coping’ with scale of current bushfires

Bairnsdale 3875

Scientific modelling used to predict how bushfires will behave is “not coping” with the current fire situation in south-eastern Australia because the fires are so big, an incident controller says.

Key points:

  • As fires build they create their own weather, so data from the weather bureau becomes less relevant
  • “Significant movement” of all fires in Gippsland is expected from Friday afternoon through to Sunday morning
  • For the latest information visit the VicEmergency website.

Andy Gillham, from the Bairnsdale incident control team in Gippsland, Victoria, said in coming days some communities would have fires approaching “from almost all directions”.

“Everybody’s saying the same thing; and that is that a lot of the scientific modelling that we use to try and predict where fire might run is not coping with what’s happening in the landscape just purely because of the fire load,” he told ABC Gippsland.

Mr Gillham said as fires build they create their own weather, so data from the weather bureau becomes less relevant.

“We know roughly what’s happening but the fires are basically doing what they want in the landscape,” he said.

“That’s why the state of disaster was declared in Victoria and the state of emergency in New South Wales — because we just need to get people out of the way.”


A firefighting helicopter tackles a bushfire near Bairnsdale on New Year’s Eve. (AAP: State Government of Victoria)

Fires exceeded human and computer predictions

NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the fires in New South Wales on New Year’s Eve exceeded all predictions.

“We saw extraordinary fire behaviour with fires, five of them, burning at the emergency warning alert level from 8:00am or earlier,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

“Those fires exceeded all the manual predictions and all the computer-based predictions for what was to be the expected fire spread.

“Those fires spread at what we call the absolute worst case scenario, which typically is not what happens when it plays out on the ground.”

He said the RFS had rerun a number of the models and forecasts, as they do routinely.

They are expecting conditions on Saturday to be even worse than on New Year’s Eve.


Thousands of people are in evacuation centres across New South Wales, including this one at Bega. (ABC News: Matt Roberts)

No safe place, only ‘safer places’

Mr Gillham said the unpredictable nature of the fires, and the fact that some communities could see fires approach from multiple directions, meant staying to defend properties was only an option for the few extremely well-prepared people who were experienced and understood fire.

But even then, he urged them to think twice.

“We expect significant movement of all fires starting from this afternoon, running through until about Sunday morning when conditions will ease off,” he said.

“We just want to reinforce that message. Just leave.”

He suggested people go to their nearest evacuation centre or if that wasn’t possible, the middle of their nearest large community.

“There’s no sugar-coating on this,” he said.

“There is no safe place, but there are safer places.”

More bushfire coverage:

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

Son of fallen firefighter, dummy in mouth, receives his dad’s bravery award: Australia’s bushfire crisis in pictures


As bushfires continue to rage across swathes of Australia, harrowing scenes of apocalyptic red skies have become embedded in the national consciousness.

But for all of the devastation there has also been a resounding resilience, from fire-affected communities through to first responders and those they leave behind.

While the battle is far from over, with authorities warning conditions could worsen into the weekend, these are some of the photos that have captured the heart of the crisis to date.

Fallen firefighter farewelled in moving tribute


A funeral was held for Geoffrey Keaton on Thursday. (NSW RFS)

It was the heart-wrenching moment a young boy, still sucking his pacifier, was forced to farewell his father for the last time.

The son of Geoffrey Keaton, a volunteer firefighter who was tragically killed last month, received a posthumous medal for bravery honouring his dad.

Mr Keaton and his colleague, Andrew O’Dwyer, died when their fire tanker rolled after being hit by a tree in Sydney’s south-west less than a week before Christmas.

Dressed in a miniature Rural Fire Service uniform, little Harvey was awarded a posthumous Commendation for Bravery and Service by RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at Mr Keaton’s funeral on Thursday.

Child steers family to safety


Allison Marion took the photo of her son, 11-year-old Finn, as they fled the fiery shores of Mallacoota on Tuesday. (Supplied: Via Twitter @Nic_Asher)

The striking image of a young boy steering his family to safety through blood-red skies garnered headlines across the country — and for good reason.

Allison Marion took the photo of her son, 11-year-old Finn, as they fled the fiery shores of Mallacoota on Tuesday.

Ms Marion said she was taking the photo “to record our story for our family”.

But the image has since been shared across news sites and newspapers as a dramatic visual of the impact the fires are having on Australian towns.

Community spirit is alive and well


Erin Lehman managed to keep her kids busy by drawing a thank you sign for the Country Fire Authority (CFA). (Facebook: Erin Lehman)

As emergency services race to save properties across Victoria and New South Wales, and authorities warn conditions could worsen into the weekend, those in fire-affected communities have been quick to show their gratitude.

Mallacoota resident Erin Lehman managed to keep her kids busy by drawing a thank you sign for the Country Fire Authority (CFA), while those in Tahmoor, in New South Wales, left a “little message to all the bombers in the sky”.


A thank you message left for NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers in Tahmoor. (Facebook: Beau Bromley)

“The conditions those pilots are flying in all day and the RFS on the ground you are all legends,” wrote Beau Bromley, who took the photo of a thank you message scrawled across a rooftop.

“And once this is all over [you] deserve more than one beer.”

The story hits closer to home

Matt Roberts, a photographer for the ABC, took these photos of his sister’s property, which was lost in the fires.
(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

ABC photographer Matt Roberts is used to being behind the camera, but he couldn’t have anticipated his family would soon be a part of the story.

While covering the aftermath of the fires in Quaama on New Year’s Day, Roberts discovered the burnt remnants of his sister’s home.

“My kids loved visiting. I found her late today,” he tweeted, alongside before and after shots of the property.

“Her young family is safe but unsure what to do next.”

Emergency services don’t stop for the holidays


Thousands of firefighters and emergency services gave up their holidays to help contain blazes burning across the country. (NSW RFS)

While the vast majority of Australia may have come to a standstill to enjoy the Christmas festivities, fires unfortunately don’t play by the same rules.

Thousands of firefighters and emergency services gave up their holidays to help contain blazes burning across the country.

They appear to have taken the predicament in their stride, however, with one crew from NSW opting for a chainsaw instead of a knife to cut a gingerbread house.

Australia’s wildlife fights to survive


A kookaburra perching on the burnt remains of a tree attracted viral attention last month. (NSW RFS via Adam Stevenson)

Australia’s fauna may be renowned around the globe, but it’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks.

The striking image of a kangaroo fleeing from a burning house was front page news in the United Kingdom, while a kookaburra perching on the burnt remains of a tree attracted viral attention last month.

“My last day of the decade felt like the apocalypse,” photographer Matthew Abbott, who captured the kangaroo’s escape, tweeted on Wednesday.

“Been covering the Australian bushfires for the last 6 weeks, but haven’t seen anything like yesterday’s fire that decimated the town of Conjola, NSW.”

The striking image of a kangaroo fleeing from a burning house was front page news in the United Kingdom.
(The Guardian)

More bushfire coverage:

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

‘It will be a bad day’: RFS warns catastrophic fire conditions could hit NSW

Bega 2550

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says tomorrow will be a “bad day” with bushfire conditions expected to reach catastrophic levels.

Key points:

  • The total number of confirmed dead in NSW this bushfire season is 17
  • At least three volunteer firefighters were killed in the past two weeks while battling blazes
  • The latest stocktake of destruction comes amid mass evacuations on the NSW South Coast

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers today warned southern areas of New South Wales would be in most danger.

“It is likely we will see some areas during the day reach the catastrophic forecast, particularly in the southern part of New South Wales,” Deputy Commissioner Rogers said.

“Obviously we are gearing up to that and while it is rated extreme it is in the upper end of extreme and it will be a bad day. Whatever the rating is, it will be a pretty bad.”

Deputy Commissioner Rogers said authorities are as ready as they will ever be.

“This state of readiness for New South Wales can’t be matched anywhere. We are as ready as we can be,” he said.

Death toll now at 17, nearly 500 homes lost over New Year period

The NSW bushfire death toll has now risen to 17, after authorities announced a man had died from injuries he sustained in a fire in the Northern Tablelands last year.

It is believed the 59-year-old man suffered serious burns after taking shelter in a water tank during the Stockyards Flat fire in November.

He was airlifted to the Royal North Shore Hospital for treatment but died on Sunday.

So far since Monday, eight people have died.

That toll includes a man whose body was found at Belowra in the state’s south yesterday.

The body has not been formally identified, however, it is believed to be that of a 72-year-old who was missing in the area.

The RFS also confirmed 449 homes had been destroyed on the South Coast since New Year’s Eve.

This takes the total number of properties destroyed this fire season to 1,365, with 501 homes damaged.

The RFS said more than 9,000 homes were saved by the efforts of firefighters across the state.


Tourists and residents on the NSW South Coast were still evacuating ahead of dangerous weekend forecasts. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

However, these figures remain conservative while firefighters and emergency services continue to lead mass evacuations out of the state’s South Coast.

Following the extensive losses, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced the appointment of a recovery coordinator for Southern NSW.

Mr Dick Adams retired as a Deputy Commissioner after 35 years in the NSW Police Force and was a former State Emergency Operations Controller who led the bushfire recovery efforts in Wyong, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens in 2013.

Ms Berejiklian said while damage assessments were ongoing it was clear many properties had been destroyed and Mr Adams’s appointment to the role would “ensure recovery operations begin as soon as possible”.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said earlier this week authorities were having difficulty accessing isolated communities where there was only access by one road.


Robert and Patrick Salway, died defending their property near Cobargo. (Supplied)

Yesterday, the NSW Police confirmed three more bodies were found at the Conjola region where bushfires razed at least 89 properties.

And on Wednesday, the RFS confirmed a father and son died defending their property in Cobargo.

Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, had stayed behind at their family home on Monday night as the fire approached.

Volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul, 28, also died after his truck flipped in the Green Valley blaze in Jingellic, 70 kilometres east of Albury near the NSW-Victoria border.

Mr McPaul was the third volunteer firefighter to die while battling fires in NSW in less than two weeks.


RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and Harvey Keaton, whose firefighter father died last year. (Twitter: NSW Rural Fire Service)

Two young fathers, Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, were killed after their truck was struck by a tree south-west of Sydney.

An emotional funeral was held for Mr Keaton yesterday in Minchinbury, which was also attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons gave a commendation medal for bravery to Mr Keaton’s 19-month-old son, Harvey.

The toddler continued to suck on his dummy while the Commissioner pinned it to his child-sized RFS uniform.

More bushfire coverage:

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

Rescuers battle to reach cut-off Victorian communities before weekend weather hits

Melbourne 3000

Firefighters, police and the army are making extraordinary efforts to bring relief to thousands of Victorians cut off by bushfires, as they brace for extreme weekend weather which could see huge bushfires merge in the state’s east and north-east.

Key points:

The huge bushfire that struck Mallacoota is one of several destructive blazes still burning in East Gippsland, and another massive fire continues to rage near Corryong, close to the New South Wales-Victoria border.

A large navy ship has arrived at Mallacoota, where fire authorities said about 500 people could be evacuated today, as they urge people in other parts of East Gippsland to get out before conditions worsen on the weekend.

At Corryong, in Victoria’s north-east, a convoy of over 120 vehicles travelled out of the fire zone last night — more than double the number of vehicles expected.

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


A CFA strike team arrived in Cann River yesterday ahead of worsening conditions on the weekend. (Facebook: Joe Stephens)

Late yesterday, six patients were flown out of Mallacoota on an Australian Defence Force Black Hawk helicopter to the RAAF base in East Sale.

About a dozen smaller communities have been isolated and are running short on supplies including the town of Cann River in far eastern Victoria.


Cann River was cut off and communications remained difficult as the fire closed in on Wednesday. (Facebook: Sherylle Holster)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said work was underway to drop satellite phones, food and water into those communities.

But smoke and the dynamic fire situation was making it difficult.

“I know it seems quite simple to do an air drop into some of these communities, but if visibility is poor and you’ve got other aircraft that are still fighting the fire, it is very, very complex,” he said.

“We wish it was much more simple, but it isn’t.”

Video: "We need farming help": Residents devastated by fires in Victoria's north-east

(ABC News)

Red Cross relief packages, including food, water and other basics will be dropped into Cann River today.

Police officer drives through flames to help Genoa

The tiny community of Genoa, which is nestled in far eastern Victoria near the New South Wales border, has also been cut off by fire.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington said they actually spoke to authorities in New South Wales to try to get some fire trucks in from the other side of the border.

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

(ABC News)

A police officer responded by driving 60 kilometres through the bushfires to reach the town, he said.

“A New South Wales police officer drove from Eden through the fire to get into Genoa to provide a bit of leadership into that community,” he said.

Emergency officials are trying to encourage more people to leave the fire zone before the bad weather on the weekend.

The message is clear: if you’re in a remote community anywhere near the fires, get out early.

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.

Authorities said they were concerned they would not be able to get to these towns if they were cut off.

“Every community that is lying to the south and south-east of the Bairnsdale complex of fires is under threat,” Deputy Emergency Management Commissioner Chris Stephenson said.

“We’ll offer the opportunity to get as many people out as we can into a more comfortable place, however logistically that’s quite a challenge.

“The best options are to be in a major centre where you have the services and the things you require for your family’s welfare.”

Concerns fires around Corryong, East Gippsland could merge

At Corryong, officials are door knocking as many properties as possible warning residents to get out.

Work is being done to get generators up and operating but communications and power are still in the area.


Burnt trees on the way into Corryong, in north-eastern Victoria. (ABC News: Ashlee Charlton)

Numerous road blocks, including along the Murray Valley Highway, remain in place.

The big threat is that the hot weather forecast for the next few days could cause the Corryong fire to merge with the East Gippsland blaze to the south and a fire in the Victorian alpine region around Bright.

Crews are also keeping an eye on the fire burning across the border in New South Wales, which has gone through areas close to Tumbarumba.

Video: A father and daughter defend their home against an ember attack at Goongerah, Victoria.

(ABC News)

Incident controller Leith McKenzie said if the Corryong and NSW fires burned as predicted, the could “suck each other in” and merge as well.

Animal welfare officers are going through the fire damaged area.

It is estimated 12,000 cattle and 6,000 sheep survived the fire but will have to be put down due to burns and other injuries.

Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) building assessors are checking properties in the region.

So far, around 12 homes have been lost in Cudgewa, west of Corryong.

Fears number of missing people will rise

One man is unaccounted for at this stage.

It is understood he left the Corryong relief centre in the early hours of the morning to check on his property but as of 10:30am, he hadn’t been heard from.

The fires have claimed at least one life — Buchan resident Mick Roberts, who was being remembered as a community “hero”.

At least three other people are unaccounted for across the state, but Premier Daniel Andrews warned that number was likely to rise.

Authorities have said the full scale of the damage may take days or weeks to assess.

Video: Footage revealed the extent of the destruction in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Country Fire Authority State Agency Commander Tony O’Day said authorities are working to access cut-off towns, where firefighters and combat agencies were also isolated.

Communities across the state’s east, where more than 500,000 hectares have been burnt, remain cut off and are running low on supplies.

“[There’s] no power, no water in many of them [the towns], but just the conditions are just too hot, too dangerous,” Mr O’Day said.

“There’ll be extensive work before most of these roads can be opened to be safe enough.”


The scene in Mallacoota in East Gippsland on New Year’s Day. (Facebook: Claire George)

While conditions eased yesterday, Mr O’Day said this morning the fires were “by no means contained or controlled”.

Emergency authorities are working to set up containment lines before the weather heats up again tomorrow, and winds are forecast to pick up and create dangerous fire conditions again by Saturday.

Video: Much-needed water and relief supplies reached Mallacoota by boat on Wednesday.

(ABC News)

“And just the large, the sheer scale of some of these fires … the scale of them makes the task of containing them and building control lines incredibly difficult,” Mr O’Day said.

“Unfortunately these fires will continue to burn for the foreseeable future.”

More bushfire coverage:

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

Fuel and food shortages and sleeping in cars: The bushfire limbo awaiting communities


Residents and holidaymakers by their thousands have escaped the flames, only to face another trial … what next?

Key points:

  • Thousands remain stranded in New South Wales and Victoria
  • Shortages of fuel, food and water have been reported, as well as communication and power outages
  • People face days before roads can be reopened

The bushfire crisis engulfing New South Wales and Victoria has filled evacuation zones up and down the coast.

For many, the start of the new year has brought fatigue and frustration.

The major road link in and out of the Bega region on the far NSW South Coast has reopened, despite smouldering fields and bush adjacent to the road.

Traffic congestion has been reported along the Snowy Mountains Highway at Brown Mountain and for those that can get out, many face a full day’s travel to return home.

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

A chunk of the New South Wales coast between Nowra and Batemans Bay remained inaccessible on New Year’s Day morning.

Another part of the coast further south between Moruya and Narooma was only accessible via the Princes Highway through Tathra.

That has left thousands stranded in evacuation centres facing an uncertain start to 2020.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the availability of power, communications and fuel were concerns for isolated communities.

“We’re focusing very much on [opening] the northern road back towards Sydney through the Princes Highway and the route is open further south,” he said.

“But even people opting for the route further south, the real challenge there is availability of fuel and given the power outages trying to get power restored to petrol stations and fuel is a challenge.”

Mike Tregallas from Mallacoota in Victoria — which remained completely cut off — said it had been a very hard 24 hours for the township.

“People are going around checking their homes and finding their animals and horses, checking what’s missing,” he said.

He feared it could be many days before he could drive anywhere, with 23 kilometres of road through fire-affected bush connecting the town to the highway.

“If there are major trees down along that road, it will take crews some time.”


Holidaymakers face delays in coastal communities such as Ulladulla as the bushfire crisis continues. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

Fuel, food, phones and accommodation

Low availability of food and fuel was already reported in affected communities on New Year’s Eve, and some families were forced to sleep in their cars.

Kerry from Mirador phoned into ABC South East saying it had been “panic stations” in the town of Tura Beach.

“A car queue of 50 waiting to get petrol and people in Woolworths clearing the shelves … apocalyptic,” she said.


Craig Scott from Woolworths Ulladulla said supplies of milk and bread were running low. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

Reports this morning from the region were sparse following a communications blackout on Tuesday between Nowra and Moruya — a large portion of the New South Wales coastline.

But it is clear many are also without power, while others are relying on generators.

In Ulladulla, Woolworths store manager Craig Scott said the power was down and they were relying on a generator they had only ordered two months ago.

300 people were waiting in a queue at lunchtime on Wednesday.

“The power’s out in town, but we decided to open the store just for necessities, so people can get nappies, baby food, all that sort of stuff.”

He said the generator was due to run out of fuel on Wednesday, but there was a plan to refill it with diesel from local fishing boats to prevent food spoiling.

More bushfire coverage:

There was enough food to sustain the town for the next day, but people were waiting for food for around two hours and he said supplies were low of milk and bread.

“As soon as they open the highway we’ll have trucks coming back down.”

Local business Three Friends Fishing was making saltwater ice and was donating it to those in the town.


Those stranded in Ulladulla lined up for ice to keep supplies cool. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

ABC reporter Joh McDiarmid said her family went to Ulladulla to get supplies but got stuck there as the fires came in quickly, and they haven’t been able to return to their holiday home.

She said the only phone network in operation was Telstra, so lots people were unable to make calls.

“We’ve had no power since midday yesterday,” she said.

“We’re in the car driving around just to charge my husband’s phone battery but we also need to conserve petrol because the petrol stations aren’t open.”


Petrol supplies were running out in coastal communities. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

She said she did not know how long it would be until they could get out, and most hotels were booked out.

“We’re hearing the power won’t come back on until tomorrow night at least,” she said.

“People are just wandering the streets of Ulladulla, there’s no power.”

Erin Riley has set up a website connecting people in affected communities who have space to offer with those who need beds or room for animals.

Already, around 60 people have offered accommodation.

“We’ve had an awesome response from people offering, but not much from people who need somewhere to stay yet,” she said.

“We’re just hoping to have enough places registered that if and when people need somewhere for them or their animals, we can try to meet some of their needs.”


Many don’t have access to mobile phone coverage, prompting queues at phone boxes. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

Water concerns

Water supplies in towns in both Victoria and New South Wales have been affected by the fires.

Steve McKenzie, managing director of East Gippsland Water, told ABC Gippsland the water supply for Mallacoota could not be disinfected Tuesday, prompting a boil water notice that would remain for at least another day until water could be tested.

Mr McKenzie is pleading with people to minimise demand.

“We are noticing, en masse, a large surge of demand where people are probably turning on sprinklers and filling water tanks. The system isn’t designed to cope with that sort of demand. Use the water wisely so we can maintain supply,” he said.


One sandwich shop in Ulladulla is offering free food to support those stranded. (ABC News: Joh McDiarmid)

Bottled water is available at the local supermarket for free and water and other supplies will be brought into the town by sea.

“We may be able to get supplies in by road, but that’s something we’re working on,” Mr McKenzie said.

“We are working on a fill point in the middle of town with safe drinking water where people can fill containers that should be available later today.”

On Tuesday the Bega Valley Shire Council issued a boil water notice for Quaama, Cobargo, Bermagui, Beauty Point, Fairhaven, Wallaga Lake, Wallaga Lake Heights, Wallaga Lake Koori Village and Akolele after disinfection infrastructure was lost.

“All water for drinking, food preparation, the cleaning of teeth and ice-making needs to be boiled before use,” it stated.

The Shoalhaven City Council warned that power outages had caused sewerage overflow to impact rivers and beaches in the area between Sussex Inlet and Lake Tabourie.

External Link:

Thousands on the road heading south to Tathra, to then try to get to safety in Cooma. Traffic is heavy, but flowing. #NSWfires @abcnews

Restoring essential services

John Preston from AusNet Services told ABC Radio Melbourne just over 7,000 households were without power within its distribution area, mostly in Gippsland. This includes 5,000 households in the Bairnsdale area, and about 1,500 households in the north around Corryong.

Mr Preston could not give an estimate of when the power would be back on.

“We completely understand how inconvenient and difficult it is to be without power. We’re trying to get crews in there just as quickly as possible to get people up and running,” he said.

Mr Preston said they were working to get generators started to restore power, but conditions were proving difficult, particularly in Mallacoota.

“We have a helicopter that is trying to get in to land a crew there to activate that [generator], and that will certainly help if they’re able to get there,” he said.

“Stay safe and prepare for the fact that while we will get our crews in there as quickly as possible, this outage may go on for a little bit more until that area is safe.”

President of Chamber Commerce in Eden, Peter Whiter, said the town is struggling, and that if people holidaying in the area have a safe home to go to, now is the time to leave.

“The message we would like to give the visitors who are visiting with us is that perhaps now is the time to go home,” he said.

“We just want them to come back when the Sapphire Coast is a bit more sapphire.”

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

Corryong bushfire survivors grieve destroyed livelihoods, desperately search for family

Melbourne 3000

Bushfire survivors in Victoria’s north-east who lost power and communication for days have broken down in tears and are desperately asking for supplies after thousands of hectares were burnt, leaving their stock with no food.

Key points:

  • Authorities are attempting to reach cut-off communities with shipments of water, food and supplies
  • Authorities have warned there is “every chance” fires burning in the state’s east could join up and work their way towards NSW
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

Buildings were razed, properties destroyed and four people remain unaccounted for after fires tore through townships and communities across Victoria’s east and north on Tuesday.

Families in Corryong, near the New South Wales border, said they were desperate for food, fuel and farming equipment and some are still searching for family.

Helena Pluim said she had not been in touch with her daughter for almost 24 hours.

“I got onto her last night, but the fires came around,” she said.

Locals and visitors to the area sheltered in a relief centre in Corryong overnight and are now moving to a safer centre in Tallangatta.

Video: People were evacuated from Corryong on Tuesday night, after a bushfire leapt over the New South Wales border.

(ABC News)

‘We need help’

Sarah Klippel lost 1,475 acres of land and only had 15 acres left.

She said there were four to five years of fencing that needed to be rebuilt.

“We have cattle alive but no food,” Ms Klippel said.

“My husband has been fantastic, but he breaks down in the evening.

“It’s an unbelievable experience, we have three children, we don’t want to take them home because their chooks are dead, their animals are not well, it’s just been awful.”

Amy Paton broke down in tears as she begged people to help her community.


Amy Paton broke down in tears and said farmers desperately needed generators so their cattle can be milked. (ABC News)

She said generators were desperately needed so cows could be milked.

“We need help for our families with fencing, with feed, we need farming help, we need people up here who can donate their time,” she said.

Ten-year-old Scarlet Leone came to northern Victoria with her family after fleeing fires in their home of Narooma on the New South Wales coast.


Scarlet Leone fled fires in NSW before being trapped by fires in Victoria. (ABC News: Matthew Doran)

“We live an hour south of Bateman’s Bay, we came here to escape the fires which as you can see didn’t turn out very well,” Scarlet said.

“The whole thing’s been very stressful.”

Three Melbourne boys in Corryong have been cut off from their parents for days.

See how Wednesday, January 1 unfolded in our live blog

Teenagers Tom and Monty Linnestad and 11-year-old Harry Linnestad were in the area visiting their grandmother when the fires hit.

Monty said the fire was just 100 meters away from the evacuation centre on Wednesday.

“The whole place was full overnight. The power went off and smoke started to fill the place, everyone had masks and found it hard to breathe,” Tom said.

Harry said everyone “was filled with anxiety and nervousness”.


Burnt trees on the way into Corryong in north-eastern Victoria. (ABC News: Ashlee Charlton)

All warnings for bushfires in Victoria have now been downgraded to watch and act level, but communities are once again preparing for high temperatures and winds starting Friday.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said new fires were started by dry lightning overnight and there were 45 fires burning in Victoria’s east.

He said there was a possibility fires in East Gippsland could merge with fires moving south in New South Wales when conditions worsened over the weekend.

More bushfire coverage:


Cann River was enveloped in an orange haze as bushfire threatened the town. (Supplied)

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said the current fires were “not like others”.

“This is still very dangerous, it is ever-changing, it is complex. The coming days and weeks are going to be very challenging, we have not seen this before,” Mr Andrews said.

“It’s going to test all of us.”

About 100 people took shelter in a school in Cann River, where the same fire that tore through Mallacoota on Tuesday is threatening lives and homes.

Alison Rainey, the owner of a local cafe, told ABC Radio they had plenty of supplies for now and were trying to get a generator up and operating.


Children and parents are sheltering in an evacuation centre in a school in Cann River where they are running out of supplies. (Facebook: Sherylle Holster)

Several families remained in the school by late on Wednesday, but most had returned to their homes ahead of more forecast hot weather for the weekend.

“Communication is a problem. The mobile coverage is patchy, that could just go and everyone’s relying on the VicEmergency apps,” she said.

“All services are so stretched … everybody needs help, everyone’s doing the best they can and hopefully we’ll be getting more help shortly.”

She said while there is a lot of anxiety in the community, everyone was rallying around.

“I don’t think we’re going to starve or anything like that, but it is concerning,” she said.

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

How the wallet business is adapting to a cashless economy

Orange 2800

From velcro polyester to leather, designer or discount, wallets have long been the handy sidearm carrying our cards, cash and collection of half-stamped coffee cards.

Key points:

  • Wallet manufacturers are diversifying designs to accommodate changing consumer trends
  • The use of smartphone-based digital credit cards and identification is increasing
  • Digital credit cards can help combat fraud

Their designs have changed little over the past century but now manufacturers are having to adapt to developing trends and an increasingly cashless society.

Artisan leather goods store Angus Barrett Saddlery is based in the regional New South Wales city of Orange.

Their collection of traditional bi-fold wallets and more modern phone pouches appeal to a totally different demographic, retail and sales manager Amy Lyon said.

Ms Lyon said the shift to a cashless, and even cardless, economy had not harmed business and the demand for leather phone pouches outstripped supply.

“[Phone pouches are] pretty much being made-to-order; they haven’t even made it into the shop as a stocked item,” she said.

In line with the latest statistics, Ms Lyon said older generations were still opting for traditional bi-fold wallets with coin pouches, whereas younger customers wanted card holders and smartphone-integrated wallets.

While older styles of the wallet might be on the way out, Ms Lyon said stocking new styles would keep the business relevant into the future.


Younger generations are almost unanimously purchasing card holders and smartphone-integrated wallets. (ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

“I don’t think people are moving away from wallets; it’s just changing in terms of what they physically want to carry on them,” she said.

She said the uptake of digital cards accessed on smartphones was not as widespread in the regions as it might be in major cities, due to patchy reception and occasional telecommunications outages.

“The general consensus with customers is even though they’re cutting right back on what they’re carrying in their wallets, there’s almost a sense of not quite being able to entirely rely on the digital forms just yet,” Ms Lyon said.

“[Regional reception] improves all the time obviously[and] then we’ll see a stronger shift, more so into the digital wallets, I think.”

But the uptake of digital, smartphone-based credit cards and identification is changing how Australians use their wallets.


Smartphone-based card users made up 12 per cent of the market in the 12 months to March 2018. (Unsplash: Nathan Dumlao)

All of Australia’s big four banks offer digital credit cards, while optional digital drivers’ licences are available in South Australia and New South Wales.

Market researcher Roy Morgan found in the 12 months to March 2018, 12 per cent of bank customers were purchasing with virtual cards.

Australians aged 25 to 34 were the highest proportion of early adopters, with 21.6 per cent having ditched their physical cards for digital ones.

The second highest age group was 14 to 24-year-olds, with 17 per cent jumping onto to the cardless economy.

Digital credit cards help combat fraud

Adopting digital credit cards saves you space, but it may also save you money.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, said merchants preferred virtual card purchases because they were safer than a physical card, which could be easily pay-waved if stolen.

“From a retailer’s perspective, a transaction done on a mobile phone is far more likely to be a secure and non-fraudulent transaction,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“So, [there’s] very little chance of the retailer having to give a refund, or be responsible for the fact that they’ve taken a fraudulent transaction.”


Cashless card payments rely on a simple encryption method of tokenisation, making it more secure. (AAP (file image))

Data from the Australian Payments Network found that in the 2019 financial year, card-not-present credit card fraud dropped 5 per cent to $455.5 million.

This included digital sales where virtual cards were used to purchase online goods as well as in-store purchases.

The simple encryption method of tokenisation is key to the drop, where transactions are given bespoke ‘tokens’ that hide card details as payments are processed online.

Mr Zimmerman said the proliferation of tokenisation would help grow consumer confidence in the security of digital credit cards.

“If we can get secure transactions and people know they can’t be compromised, then I think we are in a position whereby people will feel very happy about purchasing on the internet, or bricks and mortar, using a mobile phone as a wallet,” he said.

Mr Zimmerman said more ways to pay would also help keep prices low for consumers.

“More competition generally means the prices are kept lower,” he said.

“That means that merchants don’t get charged, which means that we don’t have to surcharge customers.”

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

Horrible Histories – Australia Song lyrics

[Verse 1]
In Britain’s Georgian times
There were so many crimes
No time to hang each crook guilty of a felony
Cos there’s no room to jail you
They’d send you to Australia
To live in our new-fangled penal colony
Think that sounds like heaven?
In 1787, it wasn’t that kind of once in a lifetime trip
First fleet took the journey
Months at sea so churny
Over 40 died while they were on the ship

Those that lived were plucky
Plucky, plucky, plucky
Crammed on board with rats and vermin, cockroaches in bed
Stench inside was sicky
Yucky, yucky, icky
Lice not very nice, can’t get them out of my head

[Verse 2]
Landed Bay of Botany
Convicts’ life was rotteny
Needed food and shelter but everything failed
Threes too strong for felling
Stagnant water smelling
A real step back in time in New South Wales
Soil too poor for budding
Huts washed up by flooding
Plans for building houses came to sticky ends
The best of all their labours
Attacked by local neighbours
And that is when your neighbours don’t become good friends

Situation tricky
Tricky, tricky, tricky
Then a second fleet of ships was due aground
Some thought this was lucky
But illness had strucky
Half were dead or I’ll
Fever was spinning around

[Verse 3]
After seven years
Convict record clears
Just one catch
You got to pay your own way back
No wages meant no money
No choice, but what’s funny
Many stayed, became farmers and made a stack
Original arrivers
Proved hardy survivors
Sydney turned into a place you’d choose to go
Think that they’d be fairer
To convicts who were sent there?
No way they built prisons even more remote

[Verse 4]
Port Arthur was one of the jails
Where every escape attempt fails
Was one man who nearly got through
Billy Hunt dressed as a kangaroo

Inmate’s life still sucky
Sucky, sucky, sucky
Life behind bars was not very nice
Hideous and messy
Who would ever guessy
This hellhole would become a
Holiday paradise?

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