Tomorrow morning we depart Cairns with a load of box seals and all our gear for the Brisbane 4X4 show in March. We are having to head down early to combine family commitments with upcoming business ones, and will leave the vehicle in Brisbane for a month or more before returning.
Whilst planning the drive down I thought I’d give a shout out to the Rural Fire Service and their excellent up to date maps of current fires and fire risks throughout the Country. This helped us plan out our route with ease and had links to all State Fire Services around the country where similar information could be obtained.
The web page link is https://www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au/
The Fires Near Me app is another great source of current info, however, one that is not operating in Qld, but has coverage in NSW and South Australia so far, with a likelihood of further expansion. The good thing about it is that it works on all smartphones, can provide you with instant alerts, allows you to personalise it with your own ‘watch zones’. In conjunction with the NSWRFS website, it gives a traveler some pretty good info. Hopefully, it might become more popular in other States. https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me
So what do you do if you are traveling with fires around the place? Best thing in my books is to firstly heed the advice from the Emergency Services and avoid the area by finding another way. It sounds easy, but isn’t always that simple, we get that.
Know your sources for quick and up to date information and be prepared to have a Plan B. Government websites and broadcasts are the most accurate but can be slow in updating. The official BOM website is a great starting point of course (http://www.bom.gov.au/australia/warnings/?ref=ftr) and making use of official Apps like the Fires Near Me app make for a great combo.
Social Media sites (eg. Facebook and Twitter) have shown they can be excellent for up to date info in specific areas, so find those groups and join up if you can or follow the #ausfires tags amongst others on Twitter. Just be aware that they can also be distorted by a lot of misinformation and rumour.
Another option is to call ahead to local Police or Fire stations and see if they can provide an update. Last option is to call the local Service Stations, radio stations, the Pub, or even the Post Office and see how you go. Just don’t drive blind without any current info if there is a high risk of a fire emergency and the weather is hot and gusty.