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Bushfire crisis: How international students in Australia can help — by road tripping

Check out the unusual rock formations of the "Three Sisters", rise out of a gorge in the Blue Mountains National Park, inland from central Sydney, as you help a fire impacted town. Source: Greg Wood/AFP

The 2019/20 bushfire crisis in Australia has taken much more than just koalas. With 24 million hectares of land burnt, 3,000 homes destroyed, and up to hundreds of human lives lost, bushfire communities are in dire need of all the support they can get. As part of the “Empty Esky” campaign, you can take a pledge to travel to a bushfire affected town which will help stimulate the economies and support the small businesses that have it rough. Every visitor and every purchase — however small — will go a long way for local businesses.

Endowed with a myriad of natural wonders, it’s easy to see why Australia is the perfect place for international students to go on road trips to explore all the country has to offer — and do some good along the way. With NSW to open its borders to all interstate travel from Nov. 23, and more states reportedly to follow it’s time to start planning the top five road trips you can take to bushfire affected communities in Australia for some regenerative travel:

Sydney to Batemans Bay via Katoomba

This is a road trip meant for people who hate being on the road for too long. Only taking up an hour and a half, it’s a great way to check out heritage-listed buildings in the small charming town of Katoomba.


However, if you wish to push it further, five hours more on the road would be well worth the full coastal experience to Batemans Bay by the Blue Mountains. Take in the magnificent views at the Three Sisters, engage with birds at the Birdland Animal Park, and have fresh seafood at Clyde River. You also have the chance to visit Kangaroo Valley, a village popularly known for dining experiences, heritage pubs and fresh homemade pies.

Are the six hours worth the distance? Yes, thousands were forced to flee by the beach during the Black Summer. You can help by supporting the small businesses that are rebuilding today.

Melbourne to Mallacoota via Gippsland

It’s a six-hour-long journey, yes — but what if we told you that on the way to Mallacoota, you can stop at Gippsland, which ancient forests — it has 14 national parks! — sand dunes, and stunning wildlife? Stay a while here or carry on to the Mallacoota Hotel Motel. Conveniently situated on the main street, it has the serene vibes of a quaint seaside town and delicious food made fresh, local ingredients.

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Hundreds of koalas are feared to have perished during Australia’s bushfire crisis. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Mallacoota, now infamous for skies painted in red by the bushfires, is a holiday town that was not given an evacuation warning.  Now Mallacoota is leading its own bushfire recovery. With the help of the local community, the aim is to rebuild and recover faster.

Brisbane to Stanthorpe via Southern Downs

A short but sweet escape from Brisbane to Stanthorpe would take a total of two hours and 40 minutes behind the wheel. Take this chance to soak up the rural beauty of the Southern Downs region and stunning scenery.

A fan of panoramic views? Get to the spectacular lookout point up Mount Marlay, and then walk back to town and discover some of the prettiest wineries. Who doesn’t love wine with a view? To end this road trip, visit Maryvale Pub — a small historic one built in 1912 for a brew in the countryside. Cheers to beers!

Canberra to Eden

Travelling between two states through this scenic route is all about getting the sea views in. With a perfect balance of both countryside and coastline, this road trip is well worth the three and a half hours.

A good spot to stop would be Boyds Tower to Saltwater Creek Walking Track to embrace your inner wildlife hiker. You could also visit Eden Smokehouse for quality local seafood or the Eden’s Killer Whale Museum to hear the story and see the full skeleton of “Old Tom” the orca.

Adelaide to Kangaroo Island

Experience the contrast of green hills and the blue sea in just less than four hours on this road trip. As the name suggests, Kangaroo Island is an island, so it would be recommended to book your ferry tickets in advance. This island known for its diverse wildlife, has attracted thousands upon thousands of animal lovers. It’s time you experience the beautiful coastal views in person, instead of seeing it on advertisements everywhere.

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Source: Torsten Blackwood/AFP)

The bushfire in Kangaroo Island was ignited by lightning strikes and was the largest fire in its history during the 2019/20 bushfire crisis. Now in recovery mode, the community gets support from many sources, but visiting is definitely a great way to help.

If you need further details on these road trips, and more information on how to help those affected by the bushfire events, be sure to check out this page. Be sure to follow the Australian government’s advice on physical distancing, self-isolating and other safety matters related to COVID-19.

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