Some Good news from the Ashes of the Fires

I, like most Aussies and many around the world, have become traumatised witnesses to the megafires burning throughout the eastern seabord of Australia. I couldn’t think of what to write and then remembered the monthly WeAreTheWorldBlogfest and the commitment of all participating bloggers to find a positive story of humanity to share with the world.

So in this post, because we, because I need it, I’ve found two positive stories arising from the fires. One is about a woman who offered her paddocks to fire survivors livestock, the other is about a dog trained to find wounded koalas. Enjoy.

Beautiful gestures: the good news stories coming out of Australia’s bushfires

Australians are banding together to offer accommodation, food, medicine and funds for firefighters

When Erin Riley tweeted an offer of the paddocks behind her house to bushfire evacuees with animals, the PhD student did not expect herself to be running an emergency accommodation service by the end of the week.

But that’s precisely what happened after her New Year’s Eve tweet was shared widely. People began responding with similar offers, so Riley started a database of volunteers and began matching them with those seeking help.

In four days Riley’s impromptu organisation, FindABed, has received offers of accommodation from more than 3,000 people. They have so far helped some 50 people from fire-affected areas – many with pets, who would otherwise find it difficult to secure accommodation.

“It can be anything from just somewhere to have a cup of tea and wait, to somewhere to stay more long term,” Riley told Guardian Australia. “We even had someone who just wanted a shower.”

Erin Riley


Just repeating for anyone evacuating with animals: we have empty fenced paddocks available and we can house horses, etc indefinitely. Send me a DM if you need them. We’re in the Picton/Camden area SW of Sydney, not far from the Hume

Riley’s is just one of many stories of community members taking initiative and banding together to support one another amid the devastation and ongoing toll of Australia’s bushfire crisis.

A musician, Kathy Mikkelsen, told Guardian Australia that she and her family had been in Mallacoota where she was supposed to be performing with her band at the golf club on New Year’s Eve. They evacuated on 30 December to Tathra, only to find themselves evacuating again when a warning of approaching fire came through at 3.30am.

Six adults, six children and three dogs – her family as well as her friends’ families – then made their way to Bega, where they got stuck. Concerned about protecting their children from embers falling, they started to erect a camp in the underground car park of the local Safeway, when the trolley attendant, a Sudanese refugee named Ibrahim, stopped them and offered his home for the night – a tiny flat above the shops.

He found us all beds and his girlfriend cooked us all a big meal,” Mikkelsen wrote on Facebook. “We sheltered there the night and played music with the only instruments we had, a recorder, a ukulele, some spoons and two flashlights for the light show. The couple told us it was the best New Year’s Eve they had ever had.”

Meet the Brave Dogs Saving Koalas From Australia’s Deadly Wildfires

(TMU) — Australia is having one of the worst bush fire seasons in memory. The fires have ripped through more than 6 million hectares (14.8m acres) of land in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. At least 25 people have died so far and 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles are estimated to have died in NSW alone since September.

Most of the koala population are feared to have died in the fires. These adorable marsupials flee to the top of trees to escape fires, the worst place for them to be in those circumstances and difficult for rescuers to see and rescue—a task that has become easier with a pair of koala sniffing dogs.

Bear, a border collie cross, and Taylor, a springer spaniel, have become true heroes in their koala saving efforts.

Bear is working with non-profit IFAW Australia and trained to detect and rescue koalas at University of the Sunshine Coast. Bear’s high energy made him the perfect candidate and he is now part of a team doing on ground research and monitoring of koalas in the wild.

“Bear is a happy soul, always keen to be on the move and do something,” Romane Cristescu, Bear’s trainer, told Australian Geographic. “His worst nightmare is to be left behind when you go to work—luckily for him, we are allowed to bring our dogs to work every day.”