Locals and British expats losing everything in Australia’s devastating bushfires

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, UK, England
Australia’s devastating bush fires are affecting British expats as well as locals.

Homes and communities all along the southeastern coastline are suffering horrendous losses due to the uncontrollable bushfires now devastating the region. Even when the flames are a good distance away, the massive plumes of smoke are making breathing difficult, and residents are losing their homes and, tragically, their lives. One British expat living in Shoalhaven shared photos of the scene on a UK media outlet, as houses and entire communities fell victim to the encroaching flames. At night, the skies are a threatening dull red colour, and many homes within the small community are now smoking piles of rubble.

The New South Wales region now contains over 100 fires, 60m of which are uncontained and a further eight are at the emergency level. The nearby town of Bega is also suffering, with British expat Dr Billy Hayworth reporting he’s glued to the news in order not to miss crucial updates. Bega Valley itself was home to two victims of the flames, Robert Salway and his adult son Patrick, and Dr Hayworth is at present aptly involved in doctoral research into natural disaster management at the University of Sydney. Ironically, his specialisation is ‘participatory mapping in community bushfire risk reduction’.

New South Wales has long been a destination of choice for British expatriates, many of whom are now retirees in friendly communities such as that in the seaside town of Cobargo. The town was evacuated last Tuesday, but firefighters were unable to save homes and the surrounding rural areas. Lives were lost, and the town of Mallacoota saw some 4,000 terrified residents taking refuge on the foreshore, protected by a ring of active fire trucks. It’s estimated the rebuilding of these communities will take years, leaving expats and nationals alike with shattered lives and broken dreams.
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