Tag: New Year Eve

Zhugderdemidiin is on the air. What was shown on TV on New Year’s Eve 40 years ago?

Plot World history with Andrey Sidorchik

In the cartoon Winter in Prostokvashino, released in the mid-1980s, postman Pechkin said: “ In our time, the main decoration of the New Year's table is what? TV! '' Indeed, for Soviet citizens of that era, he was both entertainment and a window to the world.

The last year of the era

On December 31 and January 1, the TV in every Soviet apartment turned into a festive attribute, under which they cut salads, raised glasses of champagne, and danced, and suffered a headache after a stormy fabulous night of the change of years.

I must say that in the early 1980s, the majority of the population of the USSR had little choice. In the best case, one could count on two all-Union TV programs, as well as in some places on a local studio. But many could tune the TV set to only one program, which, accordingly, received 100% of the viewer's attention in the region.

But what exactly did Soviet citizens watch on New Year's holidays exactly 40 years ago? Thanks to the TV program on December 31, 1981 and January 1, 1982, we will take an excursion into the past.

Without knowing it, the Soviet people entered the last year of the era & mdash; & nbsp; at the end of 1982 will die < strong> Leonid Brezhnev , who led the state for 18 years. But that the most stable period in the history of the USSR is coming to an end & nbsp; and it will soon be remembered with nostalgia, then no one could have imagined.

Exercise and a film about astronauts

December 31 was a working day, and therefore the broadcast of the First TV Program of the USSR opened everyday with & mdash; & nbsp; repetition of the evening edition of the Vremya program. at 8:00. After the political information, the audience was offered a 25-minute morning gymnastics. There was not even a trace of aerobics: dressed in standard sports shorts and T-shirts, the comrades performed exercises to the accompaniment of a pianist. It all ended with the remark: “ Go to water procedures! ''

As a rule, this concerned either schoolchildren who had gone on winter holidays the day before, but pensioners & mdash; & nbsp; the rest were already on their own by nine o'clock in the morning. workplaces.

For those who stayed at home, at 9:05 am, a concert by the Snow Rainbow children's art groups awaited. At 9:35 am, viewers were offered documentaries about the flights of cosmonauts from the socialist countries. In 1981, there were two of those & mdash; & nbsp; in March at “ Soyuz-39 '' along with Vladimir Dzhanikbekov a representative of Mongolia Zhugderdemidiin Gurragcha went into orbit, and in May on Soyuz-40; Romanian Dumitru Dorin Prunariu flew with Leonid Popov .

Having received satisfaction from the successes of socialism in space exploration, the audience at 10:20 went to ballet. Swan Lake will become a symbol of coups d'état ten years later, and on December 31, 1981, another ballet of the Bolshoi Theater was shown & mdash; & nbsp; & quot; The Nutcracker & quot ;.

In the New Year & mdash; & nbsp; with academician Kapitsa!

< p> At 12:15 p.m., a program for youth “ Start to Life '' went on the air, followed by a 10-minute concert of the orchestra of symphonic and pop music, after which the “ film '' & nbsp; children '' was offered: a picture of the director Oleg Erishev “ The life and adventures of four friends. ''

Filmed in the 1980s, the tape about the adventures of the shepherd Fram, the Airedale Bubrik, the mongrel Toshka and the cat Traffic light was very popular at that time. Voice acting of dogs and cats with the voices of people before the appearance of the program “ My own director '' was a rarity that attracted attention.

At 15:15, a film-concert was shown with the participation of the State Choreographic Ensemble “ Berezka ''. This ensemble was a real brand of the Soviet Union along with ballet, circus and Aleksandrov choir. Birch She constantly toured abroad, and it was very difficult to get to the concert of the ensemble. So it was very nice to see him on TV on New Year's Eve.

At 4:45 pm, academician Sergey Petrovich Kapitsa , the most popular scientist in the country, on the Obvious & nbsp; Incredible told the citizens about the next scientific riddles. Speculation on topics like the “ Kyshtym dwarf '' or 'Dyatlov pass' Kapitsa could not stand the spirit, being engaged in the real popularization of science. For this reason, in the 1990s, from Channel One he was asked. Sergei Petrovich himself spoke about it in an interview like this: “ Channel One '' demanded that, firstly, I smash Soviet science and, secondly, do not object to any & nbsp; pseudoscience. I refused categorically. Then I was kicked out of there … What political attitudes they had can be seen from the results of their activities. This is an intellectual defeat of Russia. Otherwise, I could not characterize their activities. ''

At the end of 1981, no one could imagine such a turn in a nightmare …

Children's drawings and a meeting with the world champion

At 17:50, the 40-minute Winter's Tale concert went on the air.

At 6:30 pm, it was time to broadcast “ In every picture there is & nbsp; sun. '' During it, children’s drawings sent to television were shown and excerpts from their letters were read. At the present time, everything was incredibly simple and naive: no struggle for prizes, no attempts to get ahead of someone. Just pictures of the guys, created from the heart.

At 18:45, when citizens returning from work rushed to conjure over jellied meat, salads and herring “ under a fur coat '', the Today in the World program began. The 25-minute review talked about how great the socialist countries live and how disgusting the animal grin of capital is. 40 years later, we can say that the observers embellished life under socialism, but they spoke the pure truth about capitalism.

At 19:10, the New Year's Eve continued with a meeting with the world chess champion Anatoly Karpov … In November 1981 in Italian Merano Karpov he confidently defeated Viktor Korchnoi & mdash; & nbsp; 6: 2, retaining the champion crown. At that time, this success in the USSR was considered significant, so the appearance of Karpov on New Year's air was absolutely justified.

Forty years ago, they also loved the “ figurine ''

At 19:50, they demonstrated a concert of the country's artistic groups called “ My Motherland. '' The short film Zigzag aired at 20:35 directed by Valery Fedoseev . A small New Year's fairy tale for adults with the participation of Natalia Saiko, Vladimir Grammatikov and Valentina Telichkina , of course, she could not interrupt the success of Irony of Fate, but she gathered her viewer.

At 21:00 the New Year's release of the Vremya program began. It told about the achievements of the country for the year, about how and where they celebrate the New Year. And in general, due to the holiday, there was less officialdom in the main news program of the USSR.

At 9:35 p.m., the “ Fun Cartoon Concert '' was shown, followed by the “ Ice Ball '' with the participation of figure skating masters. It is interesting that the tastes of the public over four decades in this regard have not changed & mdash; & nbsp; both then and now figure skating in our country was on a special account.

At 11:10 pm, the half-hour performance of the circus masters began, and at 11:40 pm the documentary “ My Country ''. It reflected the main events that took place in the USSR in 1981.

Instead of Brezhnev, the announcer Kirillov congratulated, and the most persistent waited for the “ forbidden ''

At 11:50 pm, it was time for a program called Happy New Year, Comrades! Congratulations to the Soviet people. The announcer Igor Kirillov was instructed to read the text, since Leonid Ilyich's physical form left much to be desired.

After the Chimes died down and the glasses of champagne rang out, the Blue Light began. featuring the best artists of the country.

For most of the three and a half hour show, the holiday was over. The stronger ones joined the Ballroom at 3:30, and the sweetest was served at 4:00, called Bandstand Melodies and Rhythms. At the end of New Year's Eve, semi-banned Western pop music was allowed on the air, and then those who still had the strength to start a complete separation.

New Year's morning to the ensemble of cymbalists

It is clear that only children and staunch teetotalers could see the morning broadcast on January 1, 1982. After the morning news at 8:00, everyone could listen to a concert by the ensemble of cymbalists of the Belarusian State Conservatory.

At 8:50, children who were driven away by sleeping parents could dispel boredom with the movie almanac Zvezdochka. Then, after the half-hour documentary film “ Vyatskiye Vyatki '', there was a program of cartoons.

At 10:55, the children's programs were diluted with the concert “ Creativity of the Nations of the World '', and then the incredibly popular program in the USSR began “ Visiting a Fairy Tale ''. True, the film “ Nemukhin Musicians '' director Maria Muat , shown on New Year's Eve 40 years ago, today, alas, few people remember.

At 13:00, the exemplary brass band of the USSR Ministry of Railways was brought down on the honking heads of the celebrants … After 20 minutes, the air was broadcast to Cuban television, which for an hour was vigorously celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution.

'Carnival Night' and 'Song of the Year'

At 2:20 pm it was time for poetry. Poems by Russian and Soviet poets were combined into the Winter Study program. At 14:50, the Soviet citizens finally awakened were delighted with a concert by the laureates of the IV International Ballet Competition in Moscow.

Contrary to current ideas, “ Irony of Fate '' then they didn't show it every year. But another comedy by Eldar Ryazanov appeared on the air & mdash; & nbsp; at 15:50, the broadcast of Carnival Night began.

At 17:05, viewers could see the Soviet Union through the eyes of foreign guests, and then the film-concert With a Kind Smile.

At 18:15, the second came out after Blue Light. hit of the Soviet New Year holidays & mdash; & nbsp; “ Song of the Year ''. In this case, respectively, “ Song-81 ''. On January 1, 1982, viewers could hear “ Parents' House '' performed by Lev Leshchenko , “ The Bird of Happiness ''; Nikolai Hnatyuk , “ Maestro '' from Alla Pugacheva , “ I live with my grandmother '' performed by VIA “ Verasy '' and much more.

Premiere with heart-beating Kostalevsky

After the release of the program “ Time '' Soviet TV presented the premiere of & mdash; & nbsp; a two-part film directed by Viktor Titov “ Vacation at your own expense. '' In this Soviet-Hungarian film, the favorite of Soviet women Igor Kostalevsky appeared in the form of a narcissistic handsome man who neglects the feelings of an ardent provincial woman, ready to do the impossible for him.

As a result, the Hungarian becomes the true knight of the girl Katya. Laszlo, who comes for her to distant Vekhneyarsk.

The film with the participation of Alexander Shirvindt, Lyudmila Gurchenko, Vladimir Basov, Liya Akhedzhakova, Igor Yasulovich is still popular among the older and middle generation of Russians.

New Year's holidays in the USSR were short & mdash; & nbsp; On January 2, severe weekdays began with exercises under the piano.

Источник aif.ru

People in this fire-threatened town are putting their recycling bins out — here’s why

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“We’ll start to see the stuff falling from the sky, let’s wait until that moment to defend!”

Rural Fire Service (RFS) Group Captain Mick Anderson stands on the tray of a truck addressing hundreds of people.

This is how he wants them to defend their properties from ember attack in the small town of Narooma on the NSW South Coast.

All around him are what is left of its residents.

Those who have stayed behind feel the heat of the mammoth Badja Road bushfire which is almost 200,000 hectares in size and is out of control.


Dalmeny resident Ron Mason with his yellow-lid bin. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

Nearby, it is not bin day in the town of Dalmeny but there is a scattering of yellow-lid bins down many streets.

Residents there are sending a message by leaving their recycling bins out — it means the person in that property has decided to stay and fight the flames.

Follow our live blog for updates on bushfires and evacuations.

Soaring temperatures and strong winds mean conditions are eerily similar to those which fanned deadly blazes on New Year’s Eve.

Local resident Ron Mason’s street is lined with bush and he’s using a leaf blower to prepare his property.

“You have got to have that fire bin out, so the firefighters know, if the house is on fire, they know to come and have a look for you,” he said.


Yellow-lid bins line Narooma’s streets as requested by the RFS. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

The local RFS brigades shared the idea on social media pages and were met with chatter.

“People were saying, ‘Oh I’ll leave a piece of paper in the letterbox or on the door’,” said Dalmeny RFS Captain Greg Hill.

“In the conditions, paper is going to rip off, or it won’t survive, whereas bins are straight away a clear message.

“If it’s empty, put a brick, put something in it, so it doesn’t blow over.

“That way if the time comes and we are in the vicinity … we know someone’s still there that we can help.”


Dalmeny RFS Captain Greg Hill says crews need to be able to know who to help. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

The NSW death toll since the start of the bushfire season is 17, including eight since Monday and at least 449 homes destroyed on the South Coast since New Year’s Eve.

Dalmeny and other tourist towns nearby, like Kianga and Narooma, are quiet during what is usually the busiest time of the year — summer.

Clearings close to the ocean are packed with people who haven’t managed to get out of the “tourist leave zone” put in place by the RFS.

Narooma residents Bernard and Arlene Jackson say many locals have left, but they’ve chosen to stay — and have placed their bin out the front.

“Friends have gone to Canberra … some of them you can’t contact,” Mr Jackson said.

“There’s only one person we rang who said he was staying, he’s got an exit plan from the other side of the lake in a boat.”


Narooma residents Bernard and Arlene Jackson have chosen to stay. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

Back at the meeting, every time a fire truck drives past there is a roar from the crowd — some are in tears.

Mr Anderson instructs the crowd like a general addressing his troops before battle.

“If you are really super worried about things … that’s the time to leave,” he says.

Many already have, and will spend days in the evacuation centre in town, waiting and wondering what they’ll return home to.


A yellow bin being filled with water to weigh it down. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

Stay across our bushfire coverage:

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

Hospital in SA’s second largest city unable to examine victim of alleged sexual assault

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SA Police have questioned why the survivor of an alleged sexual assault was forced to travel more than 300 kilometres from Robe in South Australia’s south-east to Adelaide to undergo a forensic examination.

Key points:

  • Police tried to have a forensic examination of the victim of an alleged sexual assault done at Mount Gambier Hospital, but the service was unavailable
  • SA Police say it is the hospital’s responsibility to provide the service and will investigate why it was unable to
  • The alleged victim had to “suffer the indignity of a long car trip to Adelaide to be assessed”, which police say was “abhorrent”

Police are investigating an incident involving the 17-year-old girl on Long Beach, a popular destination for New Year’s revellers, just before midnight on December 31.

“Two 17-year-olds were allegedly involved in an incident and one of those people has now undergone a sexual assault forensic examination to determine if a sexual assault has occurred,” said Limestone Coast Local Service Area Police Superintendent Phil Hoff, who was at Robe supervising police operations on the night.

No charges have been laid at this point.


Superintendent Phil Hoff says an examination should have been possible in Mount Gambier. (ABC News)

Police tried to have the sexual assault forensic examination done at the Mount Gambier Hospital.

“They were unable to provide the service in Mount Gambier, which I find absolutely amazing, being the second largest city in the state,” Superintendent Hoff said.

“That means that someone who’s been allegedly sexually assaulted had to suffer the indignity of a long car trip to Adelaide to be assessed … and then be escorted back.

“I find it quite abhorrent that we’re unable to get the services here in Mount Gambier.”

Availability of forensic examinations questioned

Forensic examinations are available at hospitals in regional SA including Mount Gambier, Whyalla, the Riverland, and Port Lincoln at the request of police.

“I’m really reluctant to actually put an explanation up for the hospital,” Superintendent Hoff said.

“It is their responsibility to provide these services. So I’ll be making inquiries to find out why on this occasion they were unable to provide the service.”

An SA Health spokesperson said patients were able to request to be taken to another location if they felt uncomfortable with the gender of the doctor appointed to care for them.

SA Health declined to answer questions on the availability of forensic examinations at the Mount Gambier Hospital on New Year’s Eve, citing patient confidentiality.

Questions asked by ABC News included which South East SA hospitals had examination kits and trained staff available to carry out examinations.

The state’s shadow minister for health, Chris Picton, said the police were “right to be ropable at SA Health for letting down this woman when she needed help”.

“When a victim comes forward to authorities for assistance they should be able to expect rapid and accessible help,” he said.

“I’m shocked and disappointed that didn’t occur for this woman at this most traumatic time.”

He said it was “unthinkable” that the girl should be forced to endure a three-hour drive for forensic assistance after such a horrific event.

“It’s absolutely inexcusable that our state’s second-largest city didn’t have the resources to respond for a forensic assessment,” he said.

“Health Minister [Stephen] Wade must immediately commit the resources required at Mount Gambier Hospital to make sure this never happens again.

“The failures of SA Health to provide this assistance should be thoroughly and independently investigated.”

Girl examined at Yarrow Place Centre

The 17-year-old girl was examined at the Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Referral Centre in North Adelaide.


The forensic assault examination was not possible at Mount Gambier Hospital. (ABC South East SA: Selina Green)

The organisation’s Counselling and Crisis Response Program coordinator Hoa Nguyen said professional sexual assault counsellors were available in regional areas.

“Yarrow Place continues to work very closely with regional hospital health staff to build capacity to improve sexual assault responses locally,” she said.

Superintendent Hoff said the main concern now was the welfare of the girl, who was being supported by family and staff.

“Once we’ve compiled enough information and established what actually has happened, because there is still some confusion around some aspects, we’ll be in the position to complete the investigation,” he said.

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

Scientific modelling ‘not coping’ with scale of current bushfires

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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

‘We lost everything’: Couple forced to live out of car with two kids and 13 dogs

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Navigating an evacuation centre can often be challenging, but Sara and Glenn Gardner are doing it tougher than most.

Key points:

  • Sara and Glenn Gardner evacuated to Batemans Bay
  • Mr Gardner said Tuesday’s fires were “hell”
  • Ms Gardner said she has been trying to get help for her dogs without success

The couple’s home in Mogo, on the NSW South Coast, was destroyed in the New Year’s Eve fires.

Since then, they’ve been living out of their car and a swag with their two daughters and 13 dogs.

Their home was one of over 400 destroyed on the South Coast since New Year’s Eve.

Fires tore through the small town of Mogo, destroying numerous buildings.

Eight people have been killed by fires in NSW since New Year’s Eve.

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

Hundreds of animals had to be saved at Mogo Zoo with one staff member taking monkeys and a red panda home.

Ms Gardner said her family had lost everything — except their pets — in the blaze.

“We’ve lost our home, we’ve lost everything except for what we’ve got here, it’s just been horrendous,” she said.

“We’ve got nine dogs with us and four puppies, our two girls and we’ve got our health.”.


This puppy, named Raccoon, is one of the Gardiners’ 13 dogs. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

The family is receiving help from the Batemans Bay evacuation centre.

“Stormy and Bear are chained up outside, Lucky stays with us and she roams around the car.

“We’ve got two more dogs in [the car] with four puppies and in the swag over there, there’s two more dogs,” Ms Gardner said.

“There’s one in there with my eldest daughter and one there with my youngest daughter.”


Ms Gardner said her family lost everything except the dogs in the blaze. (ABC News: Timothy Swanston)

Ms Gardner said she was thinking about putting the dogs in a pen to help lift the spirits of other evacuees.

But, she said it’s been difficult getting help with all her animals.

“We’ve been told that there’s assistance out at Moruya, but we’ve also been told that Moruya is being evacuated to here, so we don’t know what’s happening so we’ll just keep the dogs with us,” Ms Gardner said.

Glenn Gardner said Tuesday’s fires were “hell”.

“We were surrounded by fire, I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it,” he said.

“It was horrific, it swept through so fast.

“They’re saying the fire front on Saturday is going to be worse than that, I can’t imagine anything worse.”

RSPCA NSW has urged people not to forget the wellbeing of their pets and other animals.

“If it is uncomfortable for a human to breathe, then it will be uncomfortable for pets too,” Sydney Animal Care Services Manager Sharon Andronicos said.

“If you are home, shut your pets inside the house to limit harm from smoke inhalation and so they are close by to exit with you once the danger has passed.”

More bushfire coverage:

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

Detroit firefighters investigated over NYE selfie in front of burning house

United States

A group of firefighters in the US city of Detroit who posed for a photo in front of a home engulfed in flames will face disciplinary action, the city’s Fire Commissioner said, labelling the stunt “inappropriate and unprofessional”.

Key points:

  • The firefighters were celebrating a colleague’s retirement
  • The photo was later removed from the Facebook page
  • The house was too dangerous to enter at the time the photo was taken

The photo was posted just before midnight on New Year’s Eve on a Facebook page for fire incidents in Detroit.

“Crews take a moment to get a selfie on New Years,” said a caption for the photo, which has since been taken down.

Firefighters were celebrating a retiring fire battalion chief, Deputy Fire Commissioner Dave Fornell said.

“There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement … Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said in a statement.

“Behind every fire is a devastated family or property owner.”

Mr Fornell said the photo was taken outside a vacant house in the city’s west, where the fire was reported at 6:34pm.

The house was too dangerous to enter, he said.

In a later post on the Detroit Fire Incidents Page on Facebook, the page’s administrators said they were “asked to post it by a fire fighter [sic] for the city of Detroit.”

“The only reason [the photo] was removed is we received messages by guys on the job stating that they had been threatened for the photo being posted,” the administrators said.

They said the firefighter was likely being threatened with “punitive actions”.


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

#Mallacoota: How one man tweeted his town’s tragic story to the world

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Mallacoota is better known for its tranquillity, with the seaside town perched on an estuary on Victoria’s remote far-eastern coast surrounded by UNESCO-listed wilderness.

Key points:

  • Mallacoota resident Brendan has tweeted about conditions in the town amid the bushfires
  • As fires knocked out power and telecommunications, his tweets kept the world informed
  • His efforts have garnered global media attention

But in recent days, images projected to the world from inside Mallacoota have reflected anything but, with skies at times turned blood red from the fires ravaging the state.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a state of disaster across most of the eastern half of the state, as the bushfire crisis threatens to worsen.

Two people have died in the region while 17 remain missing, as 50 fires continue to burn.


Mallacoota sits halfway between Melbourne and Sydney on Victoria’s far-eastern coast. (ABC News: Alan Weedon)

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

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

About 800 of the town’s most vulnerable people are expected to evacuate from the region aboard Navy vessel HMAS Choules this morning.

Already, scores of livestock and homes have reportedly been lost across the region, but the full extent of the damage is yet to be assessed.


Ecologically significant bushland surrounding Mallacoota has been charred as a result of the fires. (Twitter: @brendanh_au)

During the New Year’s Eve inferno, flames knocked out some power, mobile and internet services, prompting grave concerns among residents, as well as family and friends outside of Mallacoota wishing to know the fate of those who remained.

But one resident — who asked to be called simply Brendan — kept the small Victorian town connected with the world via Twitter, live-tweeting local conditions.

External Link:

@Brendanh_au tweet: Was just on air with BBC TV and then BBC 5 Live. Surprised and grateful at how much global interest there is in these Australia fires and #Mallacoota in particular. Have had interest from Canada, China, USA, Germany and others. Thank you for getting the story out.

In recent days, Brendan’s tweets have been shared by observers around the world, and he has garnered attention from international media, including the BBC.

“[It’s] quite incredible. I never predicted quite a lot of global interest in this,” Brendan told the ABC.

“It turns out that anyone who’s been to Mallacoota or knows anyone who’s been to Mallacoota has a Mallacoota story.

“Such a large number of people have such a special story about Mallacoota, and it’s just resonated across the world.”

‘The best I could do was tell them what I was seeing’


These were the skies that greeted Brendan and fellow residents at sunrise on New Year’s Eve. (Twitter: @Brendanh_au)

A cursory scroll through Brendan’s tweets from the evening reveals an hour-by-hour summary of the blaze from eyewitness located in the centre of town.

They include photos of the ominous skies, descriptions of the thick smoke blanketing the horizon and of the burning embers and leaves falling around him, and rolling updates on the condition of the town’s critical infrastructure.

External Link:

@brendanh_au: Mallacoota, usually a town of about 1k people, has two CFA vehicles for most of the year. Over the xmas holiday our pop swells to 10k. Our firies recognised this and the risk early and sent many additional vehicles. We believe at least 15 trucks protecting infra and campers

He told the ABC he decided to live-tweet when he noticed that some Twitter users from overseas said they had lost contact with people staying at his camper park.

This, coupled with the town’s Optus transmission tower going down during power outages, left him no choice, he said.

“There were people out there who wanted to know what was happening… the best I could do was tell them what I was seeing,” he said.

His tweets garnered sizeable attention quickly, as information coming out of Mallacoota during the blaze was sparse.

External Link:

@Brendanh_au tweet: Last pictures of the fire across from Karbeethong #Mallacoota for the night. Still very slow moving but wind change expected later.

Brendan said that at one point people began tweeting their addresses at him to figure out if their family and properties were OK.

“They felt some connection. They felt some level of comfort that they were understanding what was happening here in the absence of any other information,” Brendan said.


Brendan’s sister pictured in her home wearing protective clothing amid the Mallacoota bushfires. (Twitter: @Brendanh_au)

‘I was taking breaks 140 characters at a time’
External Link:

@BBCBreakfast tweet: This resident in #Mallacoota in Australia tells #BBCBreakfast fire damage means residents are still being evacuated after a blaze swept through the area. ⬇️ More here: https://bbc.in/2SLbTgr

Brendan described his experience over the past four days as “pretty incredible”, with Twitter becoming a refuge for him between fighting fires.

“I never in any way put tweeting in front of fighting the fire, protecting lives or property,” he said.

“I was taking breaks 140 characters at a time.”

External Link:

@brendanh_au tweet: Still fighting bushfires in #mallacoota – situation critical near raheen and radley. Just caught a break in the wind. We’re controlling as best we can to save sister’s place. Tea trees are exploding infernos.

Prior to the blaze, Brendan, along with a “multi-decade Country Fire Authority veteran” neighbour, anticipated that the dense bush surrounding Mallacoota would bring about a fire that would be “the real deal”.

External Link:

@Brendanh_au tweet: Mallacoota inevitable

Mallacoota is surrounded by the dense coastal wilderness of the Croajingolong National Park, a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve home to ancient forests and warm temperate rainforests.

Almost 1,000 native plant species and 315 animal species have been recorded within the park, according to UNESCO.


The Mallacoota inlet leads to the Jinoor/Genoa River, which travels to Mount Kosciuszko. (Supplied: Peter Whiter)

It’s this uniqueness that Brendan said had led to his “pretty straightforward” decision to stay despite an evacuation order being placed for most of East Gippsland on Sunday.

“We’re all attached to Mallacoota in a fairly strong way: My parents have lived here for over 10 years, my sister for five-and-a-bit with her kids,” he said.

“We love this part of the world and we were expecting something like this to happen — we understand how remote and isolated we can be.”

Presently, Brendan and his family are continuing to monitor local conditions but have not yet made a final decision on whether to leave the town.

This means that for now, residents and non-residents alike will have Brendan as one extra pair of eyes over Mallacoota as emergency services descend on the fire-stricken town.

“We love this place: We made major moves in our lives to live in Mallacoota and we want to see it recover again,” he said.

“That’s what’s keeping us going.”

External Link:

@brendanh_au tweet: Someone sending a message to the CFA true country style. Placed on the #Mallacoota-Genoa road at Mirrabooka. Thank you CFA.

More bushfire coverage:

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

‘I have a debt to Australia’: Afghan family stay and defend neighbours’ homes with buckets


“The destruction here is just like a war zone.”

That’s how Zalmai Khatiz described the state of Lake Conjola on the NSW South Coast.

Key points:

  • Zalmai Khatiz and his family helped neighbours save their homes
  • Mr Khatiz said he “felt a debt” after moving to Australia from Afghanstan
  • He plans to stay and defend his street as conditions worsen this weekend

The deadly Currowan fire engulfed the small town on New Year’s Eve, forcing Zalmai, and his son, Yama, onto the street with small buckets to save their elderly neighbours’ homes.

And ahead of catastrophic fire conditions on Saturday, the two men will remain in the razed town to protect homes once more.

“Nearly 40 years ago I came here from Afghanistan and Australia gave us a future. Now, I feel like we are in debt to give to other Australians,” Zalmai said.

“We’re on neighbourhood watch.”

Every year the Khatiz family, from Hornsby, spend New Year’s Eve at their holiday home on the picturesque shores of Lake Conjola.

Their home, just 50 metres from the water’s edge, boasts panoramic views of the water.

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


Lake Conjola is a popular holiday and retirement spot. (ABC News: Kelly Fuller)

On Tuesday about 11am the family, including four teenage children, were about to go for a swim when they noticed a water-bombing helicopter filling from the lake.

Then, flames engulfed their street.

“Suddenly the winds picked up and it turned scalding hot. We thought about leaving but at that moment our neighbour’s roof caught on fire and spot fires started all around us,” Yama said.

“There was nowhere to go.”

Zalmai said the family — all seven of them — didn’t hesitate to help their elderly neighbours.


The fire destroyed 89 homes and countless vehicles. (ABC News: Kelly Fuller)

“Everybody got a bucket of water and was running everywhere — including my four grandchildren,” he said.

“One moment the children’s playground [on the lake’s shore nearby] was on fire and we were pouring water on it. Then our other neighbour’s house caught on fire so we ran over there.”

The Lake Conjola community was left devastated this week when three bodies were found in the area as a result of the fires.

On Wednesday a 70-year-old man was also found dead outside a home west of Lake Conjola.

In total, 381 homes were destroyed on New Year’s Eve along the South Coast, killing seven.

“I’ve never experienced that kind of fire and that kind of my noise in my life,” Zalmai said.

“It was terrible.”

Buckets only, hoses powerless

When the fire hit the town, 150 power lines were destroyed.

Without electricity, buckets were and remain the family’s best hope of saving homes.

The threat of catastrophic fire conditions on Saturday hasn’t deterred the father and son.


The Currowan bushfire tore through Lake Conjola. (ABC News: Kelly Fuller)

With buckets in hand, they plan to defend their street against ember attack.

They already have dozens of buckets filled with water, ready to go.

“It was and is my duty to protect my community and my fellow Australians. I won’t run away from here,” Zalmai said.

More bushfire coverage:

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

Hot air to hang around for longer before Saturday’s dangerous wind change


Firefighters and communities left devastated by bushfires this week will be given a reprieve by cooler weather today, ahead of “unprecedented” conditions on Saturday.

Key points:

  • New South Wales is facing a “very dangerous day” for bushfires on Saturday
  • Victorians have been warned conditions on Saturday are likely to be worse than on New Year’s Eve
  • A total fire ban applies for NSW and a seven-day state of emergency has been declared

Thursday’s cool change will continue today as firefighters prepare for a “dangerous day” tomorrow.

Soaring temperatures and strong winds on Saturday mean conditions could be worse than those that fanned deadly blazes on New Year’s Eve, NSW and Victoria authorities are warning.

Blazes on the NSW South Coast have claimed seven lives, while in Victoria’s East Gippsland region two people have died and 17 are unaccounted for as several major fires continue to rage.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) says Saturday’s danger zones will cover a broader geographical area, dominating the south-east corner of the state, where the most destructive fires have already struck.

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

“We are expecting the conditions on Saturday to see temperatures in the low to mid 40s,” RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

“It’s going to be a very dangerous day, it’s going to be a very difficult day.”


Exhausted firefighters have been battling dozens of blazes across NSW amid a heatwave. (ABC News: Brendan Esposito)

A state-wide total fire ban applies in NSW on Friday and Saturday, and a seven-day state of emergency has been declared.

South Coast towns that have already been hit by fires could again come under threat, according to RFS spokesperson Cathie Moore.

“If it’s an area that the fire may not have burnt through previously when it came through and it’s still got vegetation there, there is always that potential with the wind shift that a fire could come back through,” she said.

Ms Moore said since July last year, when the fire season began early, more than 3.6 million hectares of land had been scorched — more than the last three years’ seasons combined.

Closer to Sydney, the Grose Valley and Green Wattle Creek fires are another concern on Saturday because of their proximity to urban areas.

Both of those fires have previously broken containment lines and crews have been using a reprieve in the conditions to strengthen defences.


Saturday’s heatwave will bring difficult conditions across the country. (ABC News: Mary Lloyd)

In Victoria, Emergency Management Victoria’s Deputy Commissioner, Deb Abbott, warned the state had “very, very deep and quite serious challenges ahead” that were “quite unprecedented” as the East Gippsland crisis continued.

The state’s Country Fire Authority (CFA) has been attempting to remove remaining fuel around existing blazes with backburning operations, including at Clifton Creek, as the flames move south.

But incident controller Andy Gillham says every community lying to the south and south-east of the Bairnsdale fire zones will be under threat, regardless of whether the fires have already approached their towns.

“All of the communities need to be well prepared for the weather that’s coming,” he said.

How to get out of the ‘leave zone’
As authorities race to prepare for horror bushfire conditions along the NSW South Coast on Saturday, the message being sent to tourists stranded in the area since New Year’s Eve is clear: get out now.

According to Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jonathan How, Saturday’s conditions differ because the southerly wind change will sweep through NSW much later than it did on New Year’s Eve.

“It does mean there is more time for the landscape to really heat up,” he said.

“With that change coming through later it could coincide with peak heating around 5:00pm or 6:00pm for the South Coast. That would mean a very dangerous fire day right up until the evening for many communities.”

The bureau predicts winds will arrive in Gippsland by early Saturday afternoon before moving through the NSW South Coast, not reaching Sydney until midnight.

“We could see wind gusts in excess of 100 kilometres per hour on exposed coastal locations,” Mr How said.

“It’s going to be very dangerous before and after the change.”


People seek refuge at Mallacoota Wharf as bushfires close in on the town on New Year’s Eve. (Instagram: @travelling_aus_family)

Authorities have already stressed the need for people to leave the regions of most concern, including an enormous stretch of NSW coastline from Bateman’s Bay to the Victorian border, Mount Kosciuszko National Park, and in the Victorian Alpine areas and East Gippsland.

Victorians warned ‘dangerous day’ ahead

Mr How warned Victorians to prepare for a “dangerous day” on Saturday, with conditions likely to be as bad or even worse than those experienced on New Year’s Eve.

“There could be a repeat of Tuesday’s conditions … these impacts will continue to go on for the next few weeks and unfortunately there’s just not much rain in the outlook,” he said.

“It’s looking like a very dangerous day on Saturday, particularly for those in Gippsland and the north-east of the state.”

Fire-ravaged Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east is forecast to reach a top of 42 degrees Celsius with “very strong” northerly winds which will push the fire danger into the extreme rating.

Fire danger is also forecast to be extreme in the state’s Mallee and northern county.

Mr How said dry lightning strikes had sparked a number of new fires earlier this week, therefore increasing the broader fire risk.

More bushfire coverage:

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

Youth group recounts ‘dystopian novel’ experience of sheltering from fire in cinema

Mallacoota 3892

A teenager forced to shelter from the Mallacoota fire in a cinema alongside about 600 people and their pets says the terrifying experience was like being “in a dystopian novel”.

Key points:

  • On New Year’s Eve, people sheltered in the Mallacoota cinema, while firefighters and volunteers battled to save the town from a bushfire
  • The 17 members of a youth group, which visits the town every year to run a drop-in centre, have decided to stay on help with the recovery
  • For the latest information visit the Vic Emergency Website.

Melbourne university student Hattie Steenholdt, 19, was part of a youth group that was in town to run a drop-in centre to give young people somewhere to hang out on summer evenings.

But on New Year’s Eve, instead of planning table tennis tournaments, Ms Steenholdt and 17 other youth group members walked hand-in-hand to the cinema through a dense, smoky haze.

They used wet tea towels to cover their noses and mouths, as ember attacks from raging bushfires reached the East Gippsland town.

Inside the small theatre an eerie silence prevailed, broken by the occasional dog’s bark or baby’s cry, while outside there was a cacophony of explosions, cracks and roars.

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

“It was almost like I was in a dystopian novel,” she said.

“It was really hard to gauge how much time had passed in there.

“You could hear sounds but it was hard to gauge how close it was and whether it was a tree falling, if it was just embers on something or if it was a gas bottle exploding.”


About 600 people sheltered in the Mallacoota cinema when a bushfire hit the town on New Year’s Eve. (Supplied: Chris Mulherin)

Emergency services, desperately trying to protect the town from the encroaching fire, provided intermittent updates.

Hushed conversations were held about the best evacuation route to the beach if the fire jumped the town’s oval and the cinema looked like it would be overrun. It was a scenario the group was prepared for, having brought a wheelie bin filled with wet blankets to shelter under if it came to that.

Eventually a generator was located and, amid the terror, there was an attempt at distraction.

“They cycled through a couple of children’s movies, there was Frozen, Happy Feet 2 — it was a very strange mix of films to keep the kids occupied,” Ms Steenholdt said.

“But I think it did wonders for adults as well, just to be able to disassociate from the situation of all of us packed on the floor of a cinema.”

‘As dark as midnight’

Matt Mulherin, 20, was one of the few who left the cinema at the height of the bushfire’s attack.

He had first aid training and volunteered to go with two police officers to locate important medication that an evacuee had left in a car.

“It was pretty terrifying. You could hear the roar from the main oval which is the safest spot in Mallacoota,” he said.

“It looked as dark as midnight but then with an orange glow everywhere.”

Mr Mulherin said the walk to the car would have only been a couple of hundred metres but it “felt like a couple of kilometres”.

“With smoke all around you and sirens going off and all of the CFA crews going around and doing their thing and flashing lights everywhere, it was pretty intense and pretty hard to know what was going on,” he said.

“It was pretty astonishing to be out there and very scary.

“I have immense respect for all the emergency services who were that much closer.”


Matt Mulherin, 20, talks to police officers in Mallacoota, a town still blanketed by thick smoke. (Supplied: Chris Mulherin)

Staying on to help out

After experiencing the terror of the fires, 21-year-old Lucy Foster was desperate to get out of Mallacoota and home to Melbourne.

But with the only road out of town blocked, she was forced — like the other 3,000 visitors in town on New Year’s Eve — to wait until a naval ship could start evacuations on Friday morning.

In the meantime, she volunteered at the town’s op-shop and met a woman who had lost her home in the fires — and the chance encounter convinced her to stick around with the rest of the group until their planned departure on January 10 to help out.

“It was just one of those encounters with a stranger that’s just pretty special and unique,” Ms Foster said.

“She said if all the tourists and holidayers just leave, there’s no-one to help the people who have nothing and no ability to help themselves right now.”

Since then, the group has been organising barbecues and keeping children entertained so their parents have an opportunity to talk to each other, plan for the increasing fire danger on Saturday or begin the clean-up.

“We’ve been doing that a lot,” she said.

“We run into kids on the oval and start playing games with them. I think the parents are relieved to have a minute to chat to each other.”


Erin Lehman kept her kids busy by drawing a thank you sign for firefighters in Mallacoota. (Facebook: Erin Lehman)

Offers of help flood in

Facebook pages and community groups have been inundated with offers of accommodation ranging from unused rentals to spare rooms and caravans.

External Link:

Tweet: Vic Emergency disaster relief fund

Kaye, who called in to ABC Gippsland, said she was driving to an evacuation centre in the area with a car filled with pet supplies.

“I grew up in Bairnsdale. I have a lot of friends there. It’s really close to my heart … and I was stuck at home just feeling quite emotional,” she said.

“I just put out the word on some buy-swap-and-sell groups and within 24 hours I just had people constantly coming to my house today, dropping off towels, blankets for pets, pet food.

“We had a lot of veterinary medical supplies dropped off, Sorbolene, baby wipes to help the injured animals.

“I’ve literally filled my car. I cannot fit anything else in my station wagon.”

She said the plan was to drop off the supplies and get out before conditions worsened.

“We’re going to make sure we get out by Saturday because I don’t want to take up space when it’s going to get bad again,” she said.

Kaye said some of the donations had come from friends, but many were from total strangers.

She even had people whose pets had died years ago finally parting with their old beds, blankets or toys.

“It’s been really overwhelming and really humbling to see what complete strangers will do to help others,” she said.

“It’s just gorgeous.”

More bushfire coverage:

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

Locals confront PM in town where father and son perished in bushfire


Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been confronted by angry residents in the bushfire-hit town of Cobargo in New South Wales.

Key points:

  • Scott Morrison said Australians should have confidence in state emergency services and show “patience” and “calm”
  • Anthony Albanese is arguing that Australia needs to have more ambitious emissions-reduction targets
  • One person told Mr Morrison he should be “ashamed of himself” and he had “left the country to burn” during a tour of the burnt-out town of Cobargo

Two people died near the Bega Valley town when it was hit by a raging bushfire early on New Year’s Eve.

Visiting the town on Thursday to meet emergency services workers and offer his support to bushfire victims, the PM found himself confronted by a group of angry locals.

One person told Mr Morrison he should be “ashamed of himself” and said he had “left the country to burn”.

“You’re a mutt ScoMo,” they yelled.

“I’m not surprised people are feeling very raw at the moment,” Mr Morrison told the ABC after the confrontation.

“That’s why I came today, to be here, to see it for myself [and] offer what comfort I could.

“I understand the strong feelings people have; they’ve lost everything. There’s been a lot of emotion … and I understand that emotion.”

Mr Morrison’s visit came as authorities warned conditions in the NSW and Victorian firegrounds on Saturday could be as bad as those on New Year’s Eve.

Video: Scott Morrison responds to the hostile reception he received from some in Cobargo

(ABC News)

New South Wales will enter a state of emergency on Friday morning as tourists are ordered to get out of a 14,000-square-kilometre area between Nowra and the edge of Victoria’s northern border.

Many evacuees are struggling to find fuel while there are long queues outside supermarkets and shops.

Across the border in Victoria, the Navy has been called in to help evacuate the town of Mallacoota, which was ravaged by fires on New Year’s Eve.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and eight people are known to have died.

Mr Morrison is set to meet with the National Security Committee of Cabinet on Monday to discuss the ongoing response to the bushfire crisis.

Asked whether his response to the crisis was adequate, the Prime Minister said now was a time to remain calm.

“This isn’t about prime ministers, premiers, mayors, politics, it’s about the people that need the help and the resources on the ground,” he said at a briefing in the fire-ravaged town of Cobargo.

“That’s the only thing that has my focus and attention.”

‘We cannot control the natural disaster but what we can do is control our response’

Video: Scott Morrison said the Cabinet's National Security Committee would meet on Monday.

(ABC News)

Earlier Mr Morrison told the public the best way to respond was “the way that Australians have always responded to these events” and to have confidence in state emergency services.

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

“What we are saying is we cannot control the natural disaster, but what we can do is control our response,” he said.

“What we can do is support those who are out there putting themselves at risk by showing the patience and the calm that is necessary.”

However, he did confirm the National Security Committee of Cabinet would meet on Monday to address “contingencies” required for the current fire season “as well as the longer-term response and some issues we have identified to consider amongst premiers after the fires”.

“We are considering every option because we know the fire season still has a long time to run and particularly now as we are calling in more ADF [Australian Defence Force] assets to deal with this,” he said.

Growing climate concern

The bushfires have already proven a lightning rod for concern around the warming climate and more criticism of Federal Government policy exploded on Thursday.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the bushfires were “certainly not business as usual” and as a national emergency, the situation should prompt a more ambitious response to emissions reduction.

“Here’s the contradiction in the Government’s position — they say, ‘Oh, well, we’re just 1.3 per cent of [global] emissions, therefore we don’t have a responsibility to act, it won’t really make a difference’,” he said.

“But the truth is that if everyone says that, of course, no-one will act.”

Video: Mr Albanese said Australia had a responsibility to act on climate change.

(ABC News)

At a press conference in Sydney, Mr Morrison defended his Government’s response to the fires and pledged to “meet and beat” Australia’s emission reduction targets.

He highlighted the Federal Government’s role in supporting those affected through disaster relief payments and the deployment of defence force assets.

And he reiterated the need to find a balance between a “vibrant and viable economy, as well as a vibrant and sustainable environment”.

“The suggestion that there is a single policy, whether it be climate or otherwise, can provide a complete insurance policy on fires in Australia, well I don’t think any Australian has ever understood that was the case in this country,” he said.

Young Liberals in climate push

A call for a fresh approach to emission reductions emerged from within the Coalition’s support base on Thursday.

The NSW Young Liberals called for a “policy framework” that provides more certainty in the market and encourages investment in more efficient technology — including incentives for businesses and households to reduce their emissions.


Prime Minister Scott Morrison said no single policy can provide “a complete insurance policy” on fires in Australia. (AAP: Joel Carrett)

“We don’t have to choose between a strong economy and action on climate change,” said NSW Young Liberal president Chaneg Torres.

“The Young Liberal movement fully supports the Prime Minister and believes he is doing a really good job at the moment, he’s doing his best.

“But from our point of view as young people, we see it as particularly pertinent to us and we just want to encourage the Government to be thinking about the future generations.”

Last month, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean broke ranks with his Liberal colleagues in Canberra, demanding more action be taken on climate change.

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

Thousands flee fire zone as south-east braces for horror weekend: As it happened


Thousands of people are on the move amid warnings Saturday will bring a repeat of the deadly New Year’s Eve firestorms in East Gippsland and NSW’s South Coast. A state of emergency will come into force in NSW tomorrow morning.

Look back at how the day unfolded.

External Link:

Live: Bushfire emergency updates

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

NSW Premier declares state of emergency ahead of ‘horrible’ fire conditions


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared a seven-day state of emergency starting at 9:00am on Friday due to the ongoing bushfire crisis.

Key points:

  • Seven-day state of emergency declared for NSW as bushfire conditions worsen
  • Fire conditions on Saturday are expected to be worse than New Year’s Eve
  • Holidaymakers have been urged to leave the South Coast ahead of Saturday

It will mean forced evacuations and road closures for people in bushfire zones ahead of Saturday’s forecast “horrible” fire conditions.

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Saturday was likely to bring conditions more dangerous than New Year’s Eve, when bushfires left seven dead and thousands in peril.

“There’ll be real challenges and very real risks associated with what’s being forecast and predicted for fire spread under the sorts of weather conditions we’re expecting as we head into Saturday,” he said.

“The conditions on Saturday are likely to be worse than New Year’s Eve and a lot of those areas in the south-east quadrant of the state have the potential to be impacted — and impacted very heavily.”


In Batemans Bay, the beach was the only option for many fleeing the bushfire ravaging the South Coast. (Twitter: Alastairprior)

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

A “tourist leave zone” has been declared for a 14,000-square-kilometre area between Nowra and the edge of Victoria’s northern border.

The NSW RFS initially declared a leave zone between Batemans Bay down to the border, but extended that zone to the area between Nowra and Ulladulla late on Thursday.

It is the “largest mass relocation of people out of the region that we’ve ever seen,” NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said it was a race against the clock to get tourists out before Saturday.

The NSW RFS declared a “tourist leave zone” between Batemans Bay and the northern edge of the Victorian border.
(Supplied: NSW Rural Fire Service)

External Link:

@NSWRFS: Leave Zone – Shoalhaven Widespread extreme Fire Danger forecast for Shoalhaven Sat 4 Jan 2020. If you're holidaying in areas identified on the map, you need to leave before Saturday. Residents should be aware & prepare. For road closure info @LiveTrafficNSW #nswrfs #nswfires

“We have so many fires still burning down there … and quite close to communities as well,” he said.

“We won’t get containment on those fires before Saturday.”

Residents told to evacuate in southern NSW

Strong winds, scorching temperatures and low humidity are forecast for Saturday with temperatures set to hit 41 degrees Celsius on the South Coast.

The Princes Highway is closed between Milton and Tomerong, and between Batemans Bay and Moruya.

The Kings Highway, which connects Batemans Bay to Canberra, remains closed.

However, George Bass Drive, which runs along the coast, is open south of the Bay, with heavy traffic conditions in place.

Any changes to traffic conditions will be updated on the NSW Live Traffic website.

Police and emergency services have been escorting people out of the Bendalong, Manyana and Cunjurong areas — north of Ulladulla — about 20 cars at a time.

Those villages were cut off after the Currowan fire decimated large swathes of Conjola Park.

Video: People passing through Bega describe the fires they are fleeing.

(ABC News)

Traffic on major highways is heavy as holidaymakers attempt to flee the region under reduced speed limits.

How to get out of the ‘leave zone’
As authorities race to prepare for horror bushfire conditions along the NSW South Coast on Saturday, the message being sent to tourists stranded in the area since New Year’s Eve is clear: get out now.

“People are going to have to be patient on the roads,” Mr Constance said.

“We need people to stick to the major roads, stick to the roads that are open.”

Journalist Phil Coorey was traveling between Cooma and Bega and described a major traffic jam with many hundreds of cars, caravans and trucks backed up as far as he could see.

“There were hundreds, if not thousands, more cars as I got past the tailback coming the other way to add to it,” he said.


A long line of cars trying to leave Batemans Bay on the NSW South Coast before dangerous fire conditions on Saturday. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)

“I saw one police car on the entire trip. I stopped at an RFS checkpoint and told these traffic guys and they said they’re aware of it but ‘the police are too stretched.'”

Sydney ABC reporter Johanna McDiarmid was holidaying with her family in Ulladulla and said it was “bumper-to-bumper” in South Nowra.

They had detoured through into Conjola Park, where scores of homes were razed, to collect family friends before travelling further north towards Wollongong.

“You could see the power poles on the roads, powerlines across the driveway,” she said.

Town ‘not defendable’

In the south of the state, residents in the town of Batlow have been told their community will not be defendable if fire forecasts become a reality tomorrow afternoon.

The area is home to 1,300 people.

The Dunns Road fire, which is threatening the town, also prompted the evacuation of the Kosciuszko National Park and a nearby prison on Thursday, after burning through 130,000 hectares in recent days.

The RFS designated a leave zone around the town and surrounding country on Thursday afternoon, and told residents to get out urgently.

“If you are in this area, particularly in the general area from Batlow North to Wondalga, and west to Blowering Dam, you need to leave before tomorrow,” the notice said

Fuel demands overwhelm supply

Mr Constance acknowledged that many evacuees were struggling to find fuel — long queues were seen stretching out from petrol stations around Batemans Bay.

“We’re trying to get out of here as the authorities want us to leave,” holidaymaker Tracey Feeney said.

“So we’re just waiting for all their garages to open up, they’ve apparently got no power still.”


An evacuee in Pambula, NSW found this signage outside a house offering food, water, shower and shelter. (Supplied: Anita Glover)

Mr Constance said tankers carrying up to 60,000 litres of fuel were brought in overnight.

“People are queueing up to get into petrol stations,” he said.

“Obviously there is a limit … so people need to gauge their fuel.

“You can’t leave on an empty tank, because the power is off in a lot of places. We need people to be well planned.”

Frustrated and worried people are forming lengthy queues outside supermarkets, hoping to stock up on food, camping supplies and other necessities.

A patient crowd lined up outside Moruya Woolworths, where limited staff were permitting 20 people at a time to manage the situation and avoid rushes.

Video: Dozens of residents are queuing to get into Woolworths for supplies while visitors are making their way out of fire-stricken areas

(ABC News)

The evacuation order came as the RFS revealed 382 homes were destroyed by the South Coast fires on New Year’s Eve.

It brings the total number of homes lost this bushfire season to 1,298.

Deputy Commissioner Rogers said the destruction was going to get a lot worse.

Video: NSW Rural Fire Service is urging tourists in towns from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border to leave today

(ABC News)

“The unfortunate part of this is that that’s not the end of it,” he said.

“There are more homes that are lost and crews will be out again today trying to account for all of those so we can give residents surety on what’s happened to their particular homes.”

Eight people are known to have died since Wednesday in a horror week for bushfires across the country, including a father-son duo and a volunteer firefighter.


The remains of a home at Conjola Park after a bushfire swept through on New Year’s Eve. (ABC News: Selby Stewart)

A 63-year-old man and his 29-year-old son died in Cobargo on Tuesday while defending their property and volunteer firefighter Samuel McPaul died after his truck flipped in a fire tornado in Jingellic, just north of the Victorian border.

Another three bodies were found at Lake Conjola, and one man was found in a burnt-out car at nearby Yatte Yattah.

Mr Constance said the speed of the fire on New Year’s Eve should be a warning to locals and visitors about the dangerous conditions forecast for Saturday.

“I think the fire moved at a pace that no-one expected. It shot round the back of Nelligen to Runnyford, hit Mogo pretty hard and then just burned through to the beach,” Mr Constance said.

“It’s devastating, but we’ll pull together.”

More bushfire coverage:

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

I have never before experienced the helplessness I felt on the Mallacoota foreshore

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Gus Goswell has travelled to Mallacoota for holidays for years.

He is trapped in the town with thousands of holidaymakers by a huge bushfire which burned through the town on New Year’s Eve. This is his account of his terrifying ordeal.

We had been so anxious for the dawn to arrive, but when it finally did arrive, the dawn brought us no comfort, only new fear and danger.

The long, mostly sleepless, night huddled together on the ground next to the Mallacoota foreshore had been uncomfortable, but what the dawn brought to the thousands of us trapped by fire was terrifying.


Gus Goswell and his family, including daughter Gilly, found themselves trapped by the fires on New Year’s Eve. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The dawn itself was only temporary. Almost as soon as the sky began to lighten the light was extinguished.

The new day disappeared in darkness and we knew then we were in danger.

As the bush to the south-west of us exploded in flame and the fire picked up speed as it raced towards us, the smoke turned day into night in minutes.

Burnt leaves had been falling on Mallacoota through the night, now live embers were falling.

Masks and shirts tied across faces brought little relief from the choking smoke and ash.

Our eyes were full of it, our clothes smothered in it.


The lush countryside around Mallacoota was turned to ash by the raging fires. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The water was no longer our comfort — suddenly it seemed like our only hope of survival.

My family — including our two-year-old daughter — and hundreds of other families, moved to the water’s edge.

We turned our backs to shield ourselves from the terrible wind whipping the fire towards us.

Many with boats were already in them.

The sense of helplessness as we waited for the fire to hit us was unlike anything I have experienced.


A car burnt by the bushfires in the charred landscape around Mallacoota. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

The agonizing wait for the fire to arrive

I never lost faith in the incredible firefighters out defending us and whatever else they could of Mallacoota, but we were hearing that the fire was a freight train and it was heading straight for us.

And then we saw the sky turn from black to a terrifying red, and we felt heat on our backs and our faces when we turned and we heard the fire was in the town, and for the first time I really struggled to stay optimistic.

As calmly as possible, we talked as a family about our plan for getting in the water, who would hold our daughter, who would have the dog, the shallowest paths across the water that would take us as far from the fire as possible, the importance of only getting into the water when we really had to.

And we waited for that moment.


Clothing tied across faces provided little relief from the choking smoke, he said. (Supplied: Gus Goswell)

But somehow — for us at least — that moment which must be a moment of pure terror never arrived.

Thanks to the skill and bravery of the firefighters and what I have since read was a minor wind change, the flames never reached us.

Later in the day, thousands of us watched, horrified, as the fire destroyed houses on the other side of the lake, as flames crowned and trees exploded as the fire raced on.

Today we can still see it burning to the north and east of the town.

Today we have no power, no road out, no water from the tap that is safe to drink without boiling.

But we are safe. And so lucky.

The fire did not touch us, but it did hit so much of Mallacoota and the landscape that we love.

Streets have been devastated, dozens of houses destroyed.

Others wait for the terrifying moment, as we did

Today many Mallacoota locals are now residents in name only.

They have nowhere to reside.

The fire took their houses, their gardens, their vehicles, perhaps their pets and livestock.

I can’t imagine the feeling.


The fire in Mallacoota destroyed everything in its path. (Twitter: Luke McCrone)

Today there are still people in East Gippsland in danger, people waiting for that terrible moment, just as we waited.

I can’t bear to think about the native animals these fires have killed, the ecosystems savaged.

We love this place, but can never know it like the locals do.

We all endured something terrible at the Mallacoota waterfront, but many others here will endure so much more in the coming days and weeks and months.

It’s they who face the task of rebuilding homes.

It’s they who face the task of revitalising the community we are lucky enough to visit each year. Please listen to them.

Gus Goswell is a former ABC journalist.

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

Man charged after explosion blows doors, windows out of home

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A man has been charged after allegedly setting off an explosion which caused a fire at his Bunbury home in WA’s South West after police knocked on his front door.

Two police officers went to 48-year-old Iain Ross Hudson’s home in the Bunbury suburb of Withers on Tuesday afternoon.

While the officers were standing on the home’s porch they heard an explosion inside.

Police allege Mr Hudson then tried to flee but was quickly caught by officers.

A second explosion was heard and the house caught on fire.

Mr Hudson and the two officers received medical treatment for minor injuries.


The police investigation is continuing. (ABC News: Jacqueline Lynch)

Neighbour Donald MacPherson said he heard the explosions at the property next door to his as he was having a New Year’s Eve barbeque.

“It blew the doors and windows out … I packed myself,” he said.

“It was a real big bang and flames went everywhere … a very big bang.

“All I saw is the door went flying and the two police officers came running back.”

Mr MacPherson said he had been unable to stay at his home since the explosion, as there were concerns about whether there had been any impact from the explosions on the structural integrity of his property.

“I was very frightened, I wasn’t allowed to stay here last night, just in case something happens,” he said.


Donald MacPherson says the explosion blew the property’s doors and windows out. (ABC News: Jacqueline Lynch)

He said the road had been blocked off, with officers working overnight to ensure the fire was extinguished.

Mr Hudson is facing several charges including criminal damage by fire, but has denied causing the explosion.

He appeared in the Bunbury Magistrates Court on Wednesday where he indicted he would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

He told the court he thought it was his mobile phone that exploded.

The man was granted bail and is expected to appear in court again on Thursday.

Bunbury and Arson Squad detectives are continuing their investigation.

Anyone with information on the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

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

‘Unbelievable incompetence’: Passengers left fuming after Jetstar cancels NYE flights

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Hundreds of travellers in Central Australia who had plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Melbourne and Sydney were left stranded overnight when Jetstar cancelled two flights out of Uluru.

Key points:

  • Jetstar said IT issues were behind the cancellation of flights to Sydney and Melbourne
  • Hundreds of passengers were bused more than 450 kilometres to Alice Springs to spend New Year’s Eve in the town
  • Virgin and Qantas boarded their flights during the internet outage, using manual methods to check passengers in

Instead of travelling to Sydney and Melbourne, an estimated 250-300 passengers were bused more than 450 kilometres to Alice Springs where they arrived after 11pm before being placed on alternate flights on Wednesday.

Jetstar said the flights were cancelled due to a ‘Telstra IT issue’ affecting check-in systems.

Canadian Wade Kelly, who now lives Melbourne, said it was an extremely frustrating day.

“We sit on the floor [at the airport] for six hours, in that time there’s three to four announcements — Qantas and Virgin are able to board their flights, but we’re unable to board our flights, [and there’s] hundreds of people just sitting and waiting,” he said.

“They just kept on saying they couldn’t check people in without the internet, [but] somehow Qantas and Virgin still got their flights off”.

Qantas and Virgin both confirmed they had other measures in place to check passengers onto their flights despite the outage, though the Qantas flight was delayed by almost two hours.


Jetstar said stranded travellers were provided accommodation, meal allowances and transport to and from hotels. (ABC News: Justin Fenwick)

‘It was unbelievable incompetence’

Mr Kelly said the only communication from the airline had been announcements at the airport saying there was an internet issue preventing check-in, and then a single email apologising for the inconvenience.

“It’s just unbelievable, it’s a comedy of errors, I don’t blame the staff but I do blame the administration of Jetstar,” he said.

“It was unbelievable incompetence, everything that should’ve been done wasn’t done and it’s just appalling.

“They’ve ruined everyone’s New Year’s Eve — some of these people have come around the world to be in Sydney or Melbourne for New Year’s, they’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars.”


Buses from from Yulara unloaded passengers at Alice Springs airport on New Year’s Day. (ABC News: Justin Fenwick)

Mr Kelly said Jetstar did not explain why the passengers could not stay in Yulara and catch a flight the following day.

Holiday plans stay grounded

Passengers told the ABC they were given an apple, cheese and crackers, and a muesli bar for dinner, but one traveller said she could not eat any of the food provided as she had diabetes.

Wayne Thompson, NT Manager of the Australian Transit Group, was asked to organise several buses to Uluru from Alice Springs, and he said many of the passengers were upset.


Yulara Airport is a 20-minute drive from Uluru. (ABC News: Neda Vanovac)

“Talking to a couple of the Japanese younger couples, I felt very sorry for them because they had purchased premium rooms over Sydney Harbour to view the bridge to watch New Year’s Eve [fireworks] from their hotel room” he said.

Jetstar issued a statement saying all affected customers were provided accommodation, meal allowances and transport to and from hotels.

“A Telsta IT issue affected our airport check-in systems at Uluru (Ayres Rock Airport) yesterday, impacting two of our flights” the statement read.

“We appreciate delays are frustrating, particularly at this time of year and apologise to customers for the impact to their journey.”

Telstra confirmed it had a loss of mains power at the Indulkana telephone exchange in the APY Lands which impacted fixed line services in the region.

A Telstra spokesperson said a temporary generator was transported from Alice Springs and all services were restored at approximately 6pm on New Year’s Eve.

The spokesperson said the cause of the power loss was not yet known.

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

‘Looks like a warzone’: How and where New Year’s Eve bushfire destruction happened


Out-of-control bushfires created a New Year’s nightmare for many Australians.

Rather than celebrating the new year, many in Victoria’s east and on the NSW South Coast spent their time evacuated from their homes or ended up protecting them as walls of flame bore down.

Here’s where — and how, according to eye-witness accounts — the destruction happened.

Mallacoota, Victoria

The idyllic beachside village lies on the coast close to the NSW border and for most parts of the year has a population of little over 1,000 people, which swells during holiday periods. It is also one of the most isolated towns in the state, which is why the fire that wreaked havoc there was so dangerous.

What happened:

Mallacoota is where most of the dreadful New Year’s Eve news kicked off as the town woke to blackened skies.

It was still dark at 9:30am and later in the day the sky changed to a terrifying red as holidaymakers who could not make it out before it was too late to leave huddled on the beach or on the town’s jetty.

When the wind changed later in the day and the conditions were safer, a cheer went up from those on that pier.

Video: Thousands of residents on standby at Mallacoota beach as fire front approaches town

(ABC News)

Business-owner Mark Peters described the devastating scenes in Mallacoota where several homes and structures were lost.

He sheltered by the water as fires approached the township on Tuesday and has since returned to town to find his property reduced to rubble.


The scenes on Mallacoota pier as the fire bore down on the township. (Instagram: @travelling_aus_family)

“It’s been totally flattened … it looks like a warzone,” Mr Peters told RN Breakfast.

“All the houses around me are gone. There’s probably 15 houses in the street, probably 6 of them survived.


A photo posted to Twitter on December 31, 2019 about 5:00pm shows destroyed buildings in Mallacoota after a fire tore through. (Twitter: Luke McCrone)

He owned bed and breakfast accommodation in Mallacoota but says he wasn’t insured.

“We had mudbrick holiday units. The mudbrick survived, everything else was gutted.”

Video: Footage has revealed the extent of destruction in Mallacoota

(ABC News)

Samantha Corbett was on holiday in Mallacoota with her family and joined the thousands of people who sought shelter at the boat ramp as the bushfire hit the town.

“We have watched houses burn today. It’s been gut wrenching,” Ms Corbett said.

Mallacoota resident Don Ashby told ABC Gippsland that fire sirens went off shortly before 8:30am as the bushfire reached the edge of the town.

“It’s like the darkest, darkest night,” he said.


Where the fires were in Victoria. (ABC)

Sarsfield, Victoria

The isolated rural town in East Gippsland, on the Great Alpine Road, has a recorded population of little over 600 residents.

What happened:

Bushfires ripped through the township on Monday night and Tuesday morning, leaving twisted metal and gutted buildings behind.

The local school was completely destroyed by the fire.

Video: Numerous structures burnt in Clifton Creek and Sarsfield

(ABC News)

A local police sergeant, Graham Shenton, told a harrowing story of survival and he knew he was extremely lucky after opting to defend his property — a decision he later described as “stupid”.

“The sky dropped down, it was like fire falling out of the sky and it lit up everything between me and the river, and everything burned,” Sergeant Shelton told the ABC.

“Everything you think you know about fire, when it comes, it just makes its own mind up.”

Myles Nichols flew back from Brisbane to survey the scene and said he had lost three properties.

More bushfire coverage:

Nineteen structures were destroyed in the small town.

In nearby Clifton Creek, Khat Hammond fought back tears as she told of losing her house, the only thing left — a melted down motorbike.

“You just don’t realise how much your house, such a large thing, can compact down to nothing but a chimney. Everything just goes. I had no concept of how everything could go.

“There was one motorbike left behind and it had just melted into the floor.”

Corryong and Cudgewa, Victoria

The towns, which are 10 minutes apart, were both left decimated by a firefront on New Year’s Eve. The total combined population sits at around 1,500 with Corryong the much bigger of the two towns near the NSW border.

What happened:

Fire crews struggled to get in and out of the isolated towns, adding to the drama of a massive blaze coming through.

In the early afternoon numerous properties were lost on the outskirts of the town, including some believed to be in the smaller town of Cudegwa.

Fire chiefs however could not determine the numbers that were lost.

Video: Vision of flames approaching Corryong in Victoria

(ABC News)

The area is still one where details of what happened are the most scarce, but was described in a second-hand account as a disaster zone.

Shalee Gherbaz said she had spoken to her brother in Corryong, who described the town as “an absolute mess”.

“Fires are everywhere but the town was standing strong,” Ms Gherbaz said.


So many of the NSW fires were in this area. (ABC)

Batemans Bay, NSW

Located on the New South Wales South Coast, the area is especially busy at Christmas time when many Sydneysiders head south to take vacations, whether they be at holiday homes or camping. The area is usually home to over 16,000 people but it swells over holiday periods.

Batemans Bay is also a haven for wildlife.

What happened:

Batemans Bay came under siege as a ring of fire surrounded the area in the early afternoon.

Residents and holiday-makers took refuge on local beaches and flames could be seen rising high on the opposite point in truly terrifying scenes.


This was one of many fiery scenes near Batemans Bay. (Supplied)

Making matters worse, there was radio silence as communications in the area dropped out, leaving many fearing the worst. Even mobile phone coverage went down and, to an extent, panic set in.


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

“There’s no internet, we cannot access the RFS website and I know everyone is doing their absolute best but we have no information,” Karen Freer, who was on holiday from Canberra, said on Tuesday.

“We don’t know where the fire is … we just don’t know the current situation.”

When the dust settled on New Year’s Day the scene was one of catastrophic damage with hundreds of properties destroyed and at least one person unaccounted for.

Federal MP Fiona Phillips said the scale of destruction in the Batemans Bay area has been enormous.


A Batemans Bay home which was ravaged by fire on New Year’s Eve. (ABC News)

“It’s just been absolute devastation,” Ms Phillips said.

“The building loss we believe around the Batemans Bay area and Mogo is in the hundreds. It’s very, very significant.”

Conjola Park, NSW

The small, idyllic inlet lies just 18 kilometres to the north of regional centre Ulladulla and is popular with campers, fishermen and surfers due to the great conditions for all three pursuits.

What happened:

Video: Fire crews from Station 509 Wyoming share footage of moments before their truck was overrun by a fire front south of Nowra

(ABC News)

Fire ripped through the area late on New Year’s Eve and, in the town, it left a trail of destruction. Eighty-nine properties were lost in the small area and harrowing tales have emerged.


The remains of a home at Conjola Park after a bushfire swept through on New Year’s Eve. January 1, 2020. (ABC News: Selby Stewart)

Lake Conjola resident Karen Lissa told the ABC she thought she would die.

“You just go through all these emotions,” she said.

“You think ‘I’m gonna die’.

“We’re lucky. Just really grateful that we’re alive and we’ve got our house.

“I’ve never seen this. So many homes lost, this is devastating.”

Video: Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp says at least 50 structures have been lost in Victoria's bushfires

(ABC News)

A man also lost his life in the area. His body found in a burnt-out car near Lake Conjola, just off the Princes Highway.

Cobargo, NSW

The town of Cobargo is a historic village of nearly 800 people near Bega, in the south of New South Wales.

What happened:

In short, scenes of horror and devastation rocked the tiny community on New Years Eve when fire tore through the town early on Tuesday morning.

A woman found her husband Robert Salway and her son Patrick Salway dead after they had tried in vain to protect the family home.

The main street was destroyed and, at the end of the day, Patrick Salway’s wife Renee posted a touching tribute on social media.


The remains of main strip on the Princes Highway in Cobargo, NSW. Residents said huge swathes of the town have been completely razed by bushfires. December 31, 2019. (Supplied)

“I love you now, I love you still, I always have and always will,” she wrote.

“I will see you again Patrick, my best friend.

“Hope you are up there ‘fixing things in the stars tonight’. Love forever, Harley & me.

“(Thank you everyone for your concern. We are broken).”

Mogo, NSW

The picturesque town, inland of Batemans Bay, is arguably most famous for its zoo, which used to house some white lion cubs.

What happened:

The battle to save the zoo was won as staff fought the flames themselves, while the zoo’s director Chad Staples took smaller animals home to his house to keep them safe.

As the fire raged they put the large animals in the safest parts of the zoo and were able to not only save the property but also make sure not a single animal lost its life.


All the animals are safe at Mogo Zoo after what was described by zoo staff as ‘Armageddon’ only a few hours ago. (Chad Staples)

Mr Staples described the conditions as “apocalyptic” but felt he and staff were able to defend the zoo because they enacted their fire defence plan.

“It felt like Armageddon a few hours ago,” Mr Staples told the ABC.

Others were not so lucky.

The zoo survived but the town itself was stripped bare as much of the main street was razed to the ground, unable to avoid the ferocious flames.

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

Relief for bushfire-ravaged Mallacoota as boat arrives with water, supplies

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Some much-needed relief in the form of water and other emergency supplies has arrived by boat in the East Gippsland town of Mallacoota and a half-dozen patients were evacuated for treatment a day after destructive bushfires swept through the coastal community.

Key points:

  • About 1.6 tonnes of supplies came in by boat for the 4,000 stranded residents
  • Jann Gilbert said the loss of all of her possessions in the fire felt “surreal”
  • For the latest information, visit the Vic Emergency website

On Tuesday, about 4,000 residents sheltered on the Mallacoota foreshore under red skies as a bushfire closed in on them.

The blaze, which is still burning and threatening homes and lives near Cann River, reduced buildings along several streets to rubble, but firefighters managed to save the town’s centre.

On Wednesday afternoon, a boat arrived carrying 1.6 tonnes of water and diesel to help fuel generators in the town, which is without power.

Video: Footage has this morning revealed the extent of destruction in Mallacoota.

(ABC News)

Those in the town said dozens of homes had been destroyed as emergency crews tried to clear the road to the airport.

Jann Gilbert’s possessions were “totally incinerated” in the fire but, at the end of the day, she and her animals are safe and for that she is grateful.

“There is just simply nothing left, nothing at all, except ash,” she said.

“I think it will probably hit me sometime later. It’s a bit surreal at the moment. It hasn’t quite kicked in.”

Video: Residents filmed as the bushfire swept towards Mallacoota on New Year's Eve.

(ABC News)

She said they were confident the firefighters would contain the blaze away from the wharf and the community hall.

“But once a fire like that is upon you we would have had no choice but to get everyone into the lake. That’s the only option we had,” she said.


Ms Gilbert said she was still in shock about the loss of her possessions in the fire. (ABC News: Elias Clure)

She blames the ferocity of the fire on climate change.

Helicopters fly out to pick up vulnerable bushfire victims

Two Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Bairnsdale to provide humanitarian support for communities cut off by the fires.

They are based at RAAF East Sale.

The first task was to transport fresh firefighters into Mallacoota and to take vulnerable patients with respiratory and other health issues out of the fire zone.

Six patients were flown to the RAAF base around 8:00pm and were met by waiting ambulances.

The patients included two young boys and several elderly people seen being taken to an ambulance on stretchers.


Two Black Hawk helicopters have arrived at Bairnsdale to provide support for communities cut off by the fires. (ABC News: Kyle Harley)

Angela Rintoul was on holiday in the town and was relieved to find her parents’ holiday house still standing, because she said the conditions at the Red Cross relief centre were difficult.

“It was very challenging with hundreds of people [there] trying to clean my baby’s milk bottle in the toilet hand basin,” she told ABC News.

More bushfire coverage:

“You start to get worried about infection and other kinds of outbreaks that could happen.”

Ms Rintoul said some families were forced to sleep on the oval next door to the community centre and a friend’s child was sick.

“She said one of her boys was vomiting by the time they got into the shelter at 5:30am on Tuesday. Just from the smoke I guess, possibly anxiety,” she said.

Video: People are crying, coming to terms with the loss: A tourist in Mallacoota describes the aftermath.

(ABC News)

See how Wednesday, January 1 unfolded in our live blog

‘End of days’

Tony Priest has been travelling from Melbourne to Mallacoota for the last four years to play with his band at the local pub on New Year’s Eve.

He said he had never seen more “apocalyptic” conditions in his life.

Mr Priest and the five other band members defended the pub as embers rained down on the building.

“It was terrifying. Like the end of days,” he said.

He said when the ember attack hit about an hour later, the band members kept fighting to save the pub as large chunks of glowing bark “showered” down on them.

“We used a hose, we had Corona buckets filled with water,” Mr Priest said.


Mallacoota’s CBD was saved, but a number of homes were destroyed by the blaze. (ABC News)

When the ember attack was over they started wetting towels and blocking the edges of windows to stop the smoke coming into their hotel room in the pub.

“It was hard to breathe, we thought it was the end,” he said.

East Gippsland incident controller Ben Rankin said the breadth of the fires and the impact on communities had exceeded his expectations.

“I mentioned it was similar to Black Saturday and I think it has turned out to be that sort of impact for Gippsland,” he said.

The state’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said at least 10 homes had been destroyed in Mallacoota.

Business owner Mark Peters returned from the foreshore to find he had lost his home and bed and breakfast in the fires, and told RN Breakfast the town looked like a war zone.

“There’s nothing, not a thing. It’s all black, smoky, all the trees are burnt out, no leaves left on them. Everywhere that used to have koalas and bell birds and that sort of thing, everything’s gone,” he said.


Residents returned home from the foreshore on Tuesday afternoon to find properties razed. (Twitter: Luke McCrone)

The town is still without power, and a “boil water” advice is in place for the area, as authorities urged residents the town’s reserves were low.

The town, usually a tourist destination in the summer, is in Victoria’s far east and accessible only by the Princes Highway — which remains cut off.

“It’s already a remote location, it’s always been — that’s the gem of Mallacoota,” said Gippsland MP Darren Chester.

Video: About 4,000 people camped out along Mallacoota's foreshore as the fire approached on Tuesday.

(ABC News)

“It’s difficult to get to, you get there and you escape life and you have a wonderful holiday.

“Things have turned pretty bad in the last 48 hours.”

Similar scenes were seen on Tuesday further west at Sarsfield and Clifton Creek, where a separate bushfire tore through on Monday.

Mark Trellegas told the ABC the sky was black in the early hours of Tuesday morning, which then turned “blood red” as the fire closed in.

He said the thousands of people huddled down by the water were calm and quiet and people offered food and drinks to their neighbours.

He said nearly everyone knew someone who had lost a home in the town, and he suspected it would take “many years” to rebuild the town.


Flames continued to burn in Mallacoota on Wednesday morning. (Supplied: Claire George)

Resident Don Ashby told ABC Gippsland he had lost his house and estimated about 50 homes had been destroyed.

“It’s just stuff. It’s an opportunity to build a new home and fill it full of new junk,” he told ABC Gippsland.

“Mallacoota community are a bunch of triers and a bunch of people who get on with it. We all pull together when we need to, and that’s pretty clearly what’s happening here.”


This utility pole was reduced to ashes. (Facebook: Claire George)

Although the fire passed through the town on Tuesday afternoon, the area remains cut off and under an emergency warning for the blaze.

“The immediate worry has passed, but … we’re under this threat until the next time we get some really heavy rain,” Mr Ashby said.


Residents have been gathering in an evacuation centres for town meetings. (Supplied)

Premier Daniel Andrews said defence helicopters would be used to provide a “shift change” for firefighters.

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

Hong Kong rings in 2020 with democracy chants instead of harbour fireworks

Hong Kong

Thousands of Hong Kong revellers have welcomed in 2020 on neon-lit promenades along the picturesque Victoria Harbour, breaking into pro-democracy chants as the clocks struck midnight after more than half a year of unrest.

Key points:

  • Authorities cancelled new year fireworks over security concerns
  • Protesters urged people not to give up the fight for democracy in 2020
  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam called for a “new resolution” to start 2020

Protesters briefly blocked Nathan Road — a key artery leading through Kowloon to the harbour — after forming human chains across the Chinese-ruled city and marching through shopping malls, urging people not to give up the fight for democracy in 2020.

The protesters fled when police came to clear the road of umbrellas, street furniture and debris and a three-metre-tall skeleton of a metal Christmas tree. Several arrests were made.

Authorities had cancelled the popular new year fireworks for the first time in a decade, citing security concerns.

A Symphony of Lights took place instead, involving projections on the city’s tallest skyscrapers after the countdown to midnight.


Riot police officers detain an anti-Government protester during a demonstration on New Year’s Eve outside Mong Kok police station. (Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

There were small-scale pyrotechnics on waterfront rooftops, but the grandiose fireworks launched from vessels in the centre of the harbour, broadcast around the world every year, were absent.

The carnival atmosphere on the harbour was interrupted as parts of the crowd of thousands watching the show began chanting protest slogans, such as “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” and “Five demands, not one less.”

The latter refers to the goals of the anti-Government movement, which include universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

The protesters are angry at what they see as creeping Beijing influence in the city, which was guaranteed wide-ranging autonomy when it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing denies interference and blames the West for fomenting the unrest.

“I hope people can continue fighting in 2020,” 28-year-old engineer Eric Wong said.

“We should not forget the people in jail who could not count down to the new year with us.”

New year, new conflict

On Nathan Road, protesters in a chain stretching for several kilometres raised lit-up smartphones as passing cars and buses honked in support and tourists in party hats and 2020-shaped glasses took pictures.

Many protesters held up cards reading “Let’s keep fighting together in 2020”.

The chain later spilled over on to the road, and some protesters built barricades and hid behind umbrellas until police chased them away.

A water cannon truck, flanked by an armoured jeep, patrolled the road at midnight.


Protesters demonstrate at Tsim Sha Tsui. (Reuters: Navesh Chitrakar)

“This year there are no fireworks, but there will probably be tear gas somewhere,” said 25-year-old IT worker Sam.

“For us it’s not really New Year’s Eve. We have to resist every day,” he said.

Dozens of people had earlier laid flowers at the Prince Edward metro station, scene of some of the most violent clashes with the police this summer.

The protests began in June in response to a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, and have evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.

Carrie Lam calls for new beginnings in 2020

In a New Year’s Eve video message, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the unrest had caused sadness, anxiety, disappointment and rage.

“Let’s start 2020 with a new resolution, to restore order and harmony in society. So we can begin again, together,” Ms Lam said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his best wishes to Hong Kong residents in a speech carried by state television.

Hong Kong’s countdown to 2047 Hong Kong was handed back to China with no framework for what would happen after the year 2047, leaving the city to carve an identity out of two ideologically opposed empires.

“Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can there be a home where people can live and work happily?” he said.

“We sincerely hope for the best for Hong Kong and Hong Kong compatriots.”

Police, who reject allegations of brutality and say they have shown restraint, have arrested nearly 6,500 people since the protests began escalating in what is the worst political crisis faced by the city in decades.

Protesters have thrown petrol bombs and rocks, with police responding with tear gas, water cannon, pepper spray, rubber bullets and occasional live rounds.

On January 1, tens of thousands of people are expected to join a pro-democracy march, starting from a park downtown and ending in the heart of the central financial district.

The previous march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front drew an estimated 800,000 people in early December.


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

‘The number of lives lost will climb’: Seven dead, 176 homes destroyed in NSW bushfires

Bega 2550

Seven people have died and 176 homes have been destroyed by devastating bushfires that hit southern New South Wales on Wednesday.

Key points:

  • Death toll expected to rise as number of people killed reaches seven
  • RFS says 176 homes have been destroyed with 89 homes lost in Conjola Park
  • Karen Lissa thought she was going to die when a bushfire swept through her street

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) confirmed that three more bodies had been found after the earlier deaths of four people.

On Wednesday, the bodies of a father and son were found in Cobargo — it is believed they died while trying to defend their property.

The body of a man was found in a burnt-out car on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah near Lake Conjola.

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


The remains of a home at Conjola Park after a bushfire swept through on New Year’s Eve. (ABC News: Selby Stewart)

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys on Wednesday said three more bodies were found at Lake Conjola.

“Sadly, we can report today that police have confirmed a further three deaths as a result of the fires on the South Coast,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.

“Police are also at Lake Conjola now, where a house has been destroyed by fire and the occupant of that home is still unaccounted for. This goes on the back of the four deaths reported yesterday.”

A 70-year-old man was found dead outside a home 6km west of Lake Conjola.

The body of a man was found in a vehicle in Sussex Inlet this morning while a body was found outside a home at Coolagolite.

Meanwhile, a 72-year-old man remains unaccounted for at Belowra, about 50km north west of Cobargo, and a 70-year-old woman remains unaccounted for at Conjola Park.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said he expected the death toll to rise this afternoon.

“The preliminary advice is that we will, sadly, see the number of people, the number of lives lost, that will climb this afternoon,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

The RFS also confirmed at least 176 homes had been destroyed.

More bushfire coverage:

Some of the worst loses were suffered in Conjola Park, where 89 homes were destroyed, and Malua Bay, where 40 homes were lost.

Deputy RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said that total was “by no means the end”.

‘You just got through all these emotions’

Video: Karen Lissa describes the moment a bushfire swept through her street

(ABC News)

Lake Conjola resident Karen Lissa said she thought she was going to die when a bushfire swept through her street.

“You just go through all these emotions,” she said.

“You think ‘I’m gonna die’.

“We’re lucky. Just really grateful that we’re alive and we’ve got our house.

“I’ve never seen this. So many homes lost, this is devastating.”

Some residents were not as lucky, as towns ravaged by bushfires were left “unrecognisable” and thousands of NSW South Coast residents and travellers remained anxious as authorities began a stocktake of Wednesday’s devastation.

Helen Dwyer said there was hardly any time to react as her retirement home was destroyed.

“We didn’t have time to pack anything. We probably weren’t as well prepared as we should have been … it was just so ferocious and quick,” she said.

“We sat down at the lake most of the day, and came back up in the evening and can’t believe how many, in our street, all the houses that’ve gone.”

Karen Freer from Canberra remained stranded in Batehaven, just outside Batemans Bay.

Her phone battery had died and like many across the coastal towns, she was anxious about what would happen next.

“There’s no internet, we cannot access the RFS website and I know everyone is doing their absolute best, but we have no information,” Ms Freer said.

“We don’t know where the fire is … we just don’t know the current situation.”


Evacuees on a beach at Batemans Bay amid the bushfire threat. (Twitter: Alastairprior)

Federal MP Fiona Phillips said the scale of destruction in the Batemans Bay area had been enormous.

“It’s just been absolute devastation,” she said.

“The building loss we believe around the Batemans Bay area and Mogo is in the hundreds. It’s very, very significant.

“The industrial area at Batemans Bay has certainly suffered significant damage and the Mogo CBD is unrecognisable.”


A woman stares at the ruins of her home at Conjola Park. (ABC News)

Commissioner Fitzsimmons said it was too early to determine the extent of the damage, but “was aware of heavy tolls in terms of damage and destruction”.

Video: Fire crews from Station 509 Wyoming share footage of moments before their truck was overrun by a fire front south of Nowra

(ABC News)

Residents forced to flee to the beach

Also particularly hit was Conjola Park, north of Ulladulla, where early assessments showed more than 50 properties were completely razed.

The Currowan bushfire ripped through the region on New Year’s Eve, forcing many residents to flee to the beach.


A Batemans Bay home which was ravaged by fire on New Year’s Eve. (ABC News)

Dozens of cars in the Lake Conjola area, north of Ulladulla, were also seen by an ABC reporter to be destroyed in the region.

He said cars were found melted in the street and paint from vehicles was draining down the road.

Large trees were seen fallen across roads in the town and powerlines were down.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it had been “a very horrible day for NSW in terms of the fire conditions”.


The ruins of a house destroyed by fire in Batemans Bay. (ABC News)

She said fire crews would be taking advantage of easing weather conditions to conduct backburning and restored power to critical infrastructure.

More than 100 fires were burning in the state this morning, seven of those at watch and act level.

On Tuesday, residents south of Nowra were warned they could be without power or telecommunications for two days.

“We ask people not to worry if they can’t contact their loved ones or friends,” Ms Berejiklian said.

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

Royal Darwin Hospital in crisis mode ahead of NYE as doctor slams bed shortages

Darwin 0800

A Darwin emergency department doctor has used a Territory Government press conference concerning New Year’s Eve safety awareness to slam the NT hospital system, saying it is stretched beyond capacity.

Key points:

  • Dr Didier Palmer said the NT Health Minister was “fully aware” of issues facing the system
  • He said patients would be “double bunked” throughout New Year’s Eve
  • Health Minister Natasha Fyles said work was underway to “free up” more beds

During the press conference, Royal Darwin Hospital emergency medicine director Didier Palmer said the hospital was “completely full”, and that he had “just come out of crisis meetings because we have no beds”.

The press conference was organised to spread safety messages ahead of New Year’s Eve, and was also attended by NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles.

With Ms Fyles standing beside him, Dr Palmer said the hospital was already short 25 beds ahead of New Year’s Eve and that they were expecting up to 90 more admissions that day.

“People will be double bunked in the emergency department,” he said.


Dr Didier Palmer said patients would be housed in hospital corridors over New Year’s Eve due to the overcrowding. (ABC News: Ian Redfearn)

“We always cope, which is something the system relies on.

“We are putting patients in corridors because we just don’t have enough space — that’s not only at Christmas, that’s right the way through the year.”

He said the solution was more beds.

“We need more beds, and anyone that says different is a fool — [it’s] as blunt as that.”


The pointed comments came during a joint emergency services press conference ahead of New Year’s Eve. (ABC News: Ian Redfearn)

Extra hospital not enough

Dr Palmer is also the emergency director at the Palmerston Regional Hospital.

He said the Palmerston Regional Hospital, opened in 2018, had not filled gaps in the system and had instead “created more demand”.

“[The Palmerston Emergency Department] is full all the time,” he said.


Overcrowding at Royal Darwin Hospital has previously reached crisis levels. (Supplied: Jack Bullen)

The $206 million hospital on the outskirts of Darwin was opened in part to support Royal Darwin Hospital.

“It’s a different sort of hospital — it’s a standalone emergency department with some low-acuity wards,” Dr Palmer said.

“We are we trying to change all these things, reconfigure all these things, but in fact we are worse off this year than we were last year.

“There are certainly plans to improve the number of beds, and the Minister is fully aware of that and over that issue as well.”

No simple solution: Fyles

Ms Fyles said the Territory Government acknowledged the problem and said the NT’s health system was not like others in Australia.

“Royal Darwin Hospital and the Palmerston Regional Hospital are very unique: we don’t have other facilities,” she said.


“It’s not as simple as putting on a bed, there needs to be the flow-through,” Ms Fyles said. (ABC News: Ian Redfearn)

“There is work underway with the Health Department and Top End Health Service around what we can do to free up the emergency department to have that flow-through of beds available.

“We certainly will continue that work and I’ll be taking that to my cabinet colleagues in the coming months.”

Ms Fyles added that more needed to be done than simply adding extra beds into the system.

“It’s not as simple as putting on a bed. There needs to be the flow-through, the staff to support those beds,” she said.

Ms Fyles said that better long-term clinical planning, more infrastructure, and more staff funding were essential to fixing the overburdened system.

“We can’t simply shift patients at a certain acuity level out to Palmerston Hospital,” she said.

“Palmerston Hospital has opened as expected and is now running at full capacity.”

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

Police backflip just hours before New Year’s to introduce amnesty drug bins at Perth festivals

Perth 6000

WA Police have performed a backflip on drug amnesty bins, reversing a weekend decision to not use them just hours before New Year’s Eve festivities in the state get into full swing.

Key points

  • Both senior police and the Police Minister recently dismissed the need for drug bins
  • Commissioner Chris Dawson now says they help people make better decisions
  • But authorities continue to oppose pill testing at music festivals in WA

Only two days after WA Police dismissed the bins as “not a good option”, Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed they would be in place for three major music festivals over the coming days.

The bins would allow people to dispose of drugs without the threat of being charged, with authorities saying officers would not question or approach people placing anything in them.

The decision to use the bins marked a substantial policy reversal from just two days ago, when Police Minister Michelle Roberts said, “it is not something we are looking at” when asked what the Government’s stance was.

Drug bins ‘not a good option’

Commander Greg Knott, who is overseeing the WA Police New Year’s Eve operation, had also emphatically stated the bins would not be used.

“On the last occasion [they were used] there were only 12 pills dropped into those bins, so one would say it’s not a good option for us at the moment,” Commander Knott said on Sunday.


Drug bins will be in place at several Perth festivals in the coming days. (ABC News: Emily Piesse )

But Commissioner Dawson today announced WA Police had reviewed that decision, deciding to use them for the Origin, Ice Cream Factory and Seasons music festivals.

“The police force has a duty to protect the community and it is my view that drug amnesty bins can assist in one way in people not making a bad decision,” he said.

“It is not the sole answer but it can incentivise someone to make a right decision.”

Hundreds of tablets seized at festival

Commissioner Dawson said the decision followed an “alarming” number of drug incidents at the ongoing Ice Cream Factory event in Northbridge, where 234 people have been arrested for drug possession and eight charged with dealing illicit substances since the festival began on December 13.

More than 300 tablets have been seized during the festival’s first two and a half weeks, and there have been two non-fatal overdoses.


Drugs seized from the Ice Cream Factory music festival on Boxing Day. (Supplied: WA Police)

About 25,000 people are expected to attend the three festivals where the amnesty bins will be in place over the coming days.

The amnesty bins were also used at least year’s Origin festival.

Mrs Roberts backed the latest decision, despite having argued against amnesty bins just days earlier.


Michelle Roberts argued against using the drug bins just days ago. (ABC News: James Carmody)

“I commend the West Australian Police Force for taking a proactive stance,” she said.

But Commissioner Dawson said police would not change their stance on pill testing, which WA authorities continued to oppose.

“We are not in the business of quality-testing for drug dealers,” he said.

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

Giant pyrotechnical rainbow to dazzle New Year’s Eve sky for Brisbane fireworks spectacular

Brisbane 4000

A kilometre-long pyrotechnical rainbow stretching between the Goodwill and Victoria bridges will sparkle over the Brisbane city skyline on New Year’s Eve, helping local revellers join in the world’s big end-of-year celebration.

Tens of thousands of people will welcome in 2020 at Brisbane’s biggest party at South Bank, with this year’s fireworks — totalling more than 50,000 displays — touted as the biggest the city has ever seen.

This is everything you need to know to make your New Year’s Eve one to remember:

What’s the weather forecast?

After the welcome rain over Christmas in parts of south-east Queensland, it’s looking good for a fine night sky for the fireworks in Brisbane.

The Brisbane forecast for December 31 is for a partly cloudy day, with the possibility of a shower in the morning.

But the afternoon will be warm and mostly sunny, with the temperature peaking at 31 degrees Celsius, so don’t forget the sunscreen and hats if you’re heading in early.


The weather forecast is looking good for a fine night sky for the fireworks tonight. (ABC News: Shelley Lloyd)

Where can I see the fireworks?

The best points to see Brisbane’s biggest fireworks display at South Bank are the Clem Jones Promenade, Streets Beach and River Quay.

There are two shows — the first at 8:30pm for families and another at midnight for late-night revellers after the countdown, with each lasting 10 minutes.

South Bank’s fireworks will also be set to a soundtrack of the biggest songs of 2019.

If you’re unsure of where these places are, check out the official South Bank map.

Skylighter FireworX managing director Max Brunner said five barges at South Bank would be loaded with fireworks for the rainbow display, which would be at the family-friendly time of 8:30pm.

“We’re going to angle fireworks from all of those barges to paint a giant pyrotechnical rainbow — it’s going to stretch almost a kilometre — from the Goodwill Bridge to the Victoria Bridge,” he said.

“It’s the biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display the city has seen.”

Deputy Mayor Krista Adams said an extra 10,000 individual special effects had been added to this year’s fireworks line-up.

“We have many new fireworks effects planned, including Italian-style Farfalla Shells, Snowdrop Shells and Blinking Stars,” Cr Adams said.

All up, there are nine barges being loaded along the Brisbane River with more than eight tonnes of fireworks.

So if you’re not heading to South Bank, there are also fireworks at the same time firing from the river at Eagle Street Pier, Portside Wharf and Howard Smith Wharves and at the Regatta in Toowong.

FYI, there are no fireworks going off on the Story Bridge or from the top of CBD buildings.


Fireworks over Brisbane River, as seen from South Bank. (Supplied: Visit Brisbane)

What’s happening in South Bank besides the fireworks?

As always, the South Banks Parklands will be a family-friendly, alcohol-free event.

You can bring in some food of your own, or buy from any of the usual establishments within the parklands.

There will be some food trucks set up on the Cultural Forecourt from 11:00am.

Restaurants along Stanley Street Plaza, River Quay, Little Stanley Street and Grey Street should all be open, but it’s best to book ahead to avoid disappointment.


Crowds gather to escape the heat to swim in the pool at Streets Beach at South Bank. (AAP: Glenn Hunt)

Are there any items I cannot bring into South Bank with me?

A few.

The parklands will be fenced off and bag checks will be happening at all entrances from 10:00am on Tuesday.

Items not allowed in include:

  • Alcohol
  • Glass
  • Bikes
  • Scooters
  • Pets
  • Skateboards
  • Metal picnic cutlery
  • Drink bottles with broken seals (including bottles of water or soft drink)

You are allowed to bring in small, free-standing sunshade — but no large gazebo structures and no pegging or staking in the ground — for use on grassed areas, but nowhere else, including the beach and walkways.

If you’re unsure about whether to bring something, contact the South Bank Visitor Information and Booking Centre on vicsouthbank@cityparklands.com.au or (07) 3029 1797.


Security guards will check revellers’ bags at the temporary gated entrance at South Bank. (ABC News)

What’s the best way to get into town on the night?

Pretty much anything that doesn’t involve you driving in yourself.

If you really want to, there are car parks available, but companies will be charging a premium and spaces may be limited.

There will also be several road closures on the night, just to make things a bit tougher.

If you do want to drive, the South Bank Parklands’ car park will be open during usual hours (5:00am—1:00am) on New Year’s Eve.

There are road closures from 3:00pm on Tuesday until Wednesday until 2:00am at South Bank for Ernest, Grey and Melbourne streets as well as William Street in the CBD.

Public transport will be free (excluding Airtrain, Logan DRT and long-distance services) from 7:45pm New Year’s Eve to 5:30am on New Year’s Day.


Public transport will be free, excluding Airtrain, DRT and long distance services. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin)

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, some bus, train, tram and ferry services will run to different timetables.

For trains, there are additional services that will leave South Brisbane and Roma Street stations from 8:30pm through to the early morning.

For buses on New Year’s Eve, services will run to a normal weekday timetable, with some extra services including CityGlider and Maroon Glider for people wanting to enjoy the fireworks at South Bank.

Bus shuttles will also run about every 10 minutes between 5:30pm and 11:30pm, leaving from:

  • Event Shuttle 4 — all stops via Old Cleveland Road and busway, then express from Woolloongabba to Ann Street
  • Event Shuttle 6 — all stops and busway stations from Chermside to Woolloongabba
  • Event Shuttle 9 — all busway stations from Eight Mile Plains to Buranda, then express to Ann Street

Bus shuttles will run return trips from 8:40pm to 1:30am in the opposite direction.

As well as the bus shuttles, hundreds of additional BUZ services will run from 8:40pm to 1:40am.

On New Year’s Day, most bus services will run to a Sunday timetable, with extra NightLink trips providing half-hourly services in the early morning.

The CityGlider and Maroon Glider will operate a Sunday timetable, including services between midnight and 5:00am.


Revellers sit on the Brisbane sign at South Bank of New Year’s Day in 2015. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin)

I don’t want to go into town, what else can I do instead?

You can watch the fireworks in Sydney live on ABC TV.

The New Year’s Eve — Party of the Decades concert will be hosted by Charlie Pickering and Zan Rowe at the Sydney Opera House, and will feature performances by Kate Miller-Heidke, Vika and Linda Bull, Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson, Angie Hart, Mojo Juju, Adrian Eagle and Casey Donovan.

Tune in anytime from 8:30pm Queensland time, with the concert cumulating with Sydney’s world-famous fireworks after we count down to 2020.


Fireworks at South Bank in Brisbane in 2017. (ABC News: Nick Wiggins)

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

Ryan Adams – Tightrope (Prisoner Album)

[Verse 1]
Strong winds and my head’s on fire
Walk another day across the high wire

I’m on a tightrope, watch it as it swings
Like a countdown ticker on New Year’s Eve

[Verse 2]
We run the numbers spinning in the side
Counting all the reasons that we’re broken and we lied
I’m on a tightrope, watching isn’t easy
Heating up the metal, putting pressure on the springs

All I want is for you to make me smile
All I want is for you to drive me wild

[Verse 3]
Pretty candles on a birthday cake
Covered in confetti with the caffeine shakes
Fuck all the money, everything is trash
Papers in the glove box, light it up and pass
Flip on the tube, we watch it ’til we sleep
Ain’t nothing but static and the panic and the feeling manic

I’m on a tightrope, watch it as it swings
Like a countdown ticker on New Year’s Eve

And all I want is for you to make me smile
All I want is for you to drive me wild
All I want is for you to make me smile
All I want is for you to drive me wild

[Saxophone Solo]

All I want is for you to make me smile
All I want is for you to drive me wild

[Instrumental Outro]

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