Throughout the bushfire crisis, when fire chiefs and RFS volunteers were asked what it would take to put out the blazes raging across the country, the answer was almost unanimously the same: rain, and lots of it. Those hopes were answered (and then some) last weekend, with much of the state receiving a thorough soaking and showers continuing for much of this week. The result has been something communities across the state have been desperately waiting for: some 210 days after the unprecedented bushfire crisis ignited, every fire in NSW has now been either extinguished or declared under control.
This is the first major breakthrough of this horrific fire season, which has razed entire towns including 3,000 homes as well as 18 million hectares of bushland, claiming the lives of 33 people and more than a billion animals in the process. The rains have not been welcomed by all, as the severe storms also caused a number of flash floods. However, for the many people in NSW, this torrential weather has been cause for celebration.
Attention will now turn towards ensuring the containment of any remaining fires holds in place before the almost unimaginable task of re-establishing the communities that have suffered the most during the bushfire disaster can begin. State tourism bodies are already encouraging holidaymakers to visit rural areas of New South Wales where many independent businesses rely on season tourism. You can do your part by heading out on a day trip, short getaway or camping weekend. Also embrace the advice of the #GoWithEmptyEskies campaign, which is calling on tourists to regional NSW to arrive “with empty cars and low fuel", stocking up on those holiday provisions from local retailers once you reach your destination.