Australia Day

By | Category: Travel destinations

Today is Australia Day, a day where there are usually fireworks, processions and ceremonies where people take Australian nationality. It is also a time for visitors and domestic tourists to take part in all the events

One of Edward’s sand sculptures. Image – Edward and photographer, Adam Stan

This year it is a tinged with sorrow for the effects of the bushfires which are only out of the headlines at the moment due to the efforts of many thousands of volunteer firefighters who have been out combatting them. Even now when things are a little quitter, they are out driving trucks and delivering food parcels and support to those who have lost their homes or part of the properties.

When Dr James Mueke was named Australian of the Year for his work in raising awareness of type 2 diabetes and its links to blindness a couple of days ago, he said that in his eyes, firefighters and emergency services personnel were the real heroes.

Tourism is important in keeping industry functioning in areas hit by bushfires so one of the events going ahead today is  the High Country Comeback, an event being held a little later than Australia Day on Sunday 2 February​ at The Timber Yard, Port Melbourne, well away from the part of Victoria that was hit by the fires.

It will showcase 100 local groups that will have brought local produce, wine, beer, gifts, experiences and a range of Made in Victoria’s High Country products to Port Melbourne along with home-grown musicians. The Timber Yard has donated the site for this special day.

It will give Melburnians and visitors the chance to support regional businesses which have been hit hard by the recent bushfires as well as encourage visitors to return to the High Country.

This isn’t the only help to the affected areas.

Australia and New Zealand tours specialist AAT Kings has launched a collection of not-for-profit day tours and short breaks designed to provide immediate support to tourism communities that have been affected by the bushfires.

The Bushfire Relief Giveback Experiences are available across New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They have been designed in collaboration with Australia’s #EmptyEsky campaign and in conjunction with local communities. AAT Kings will take guests and their empty cooler bags (what Australian’s call esky) to local markets, stores and cafes in bushfires where they can fill their bags with locally made products. Guests will also meet with locals, who can share first-hand the best way to help these destinations.

The first day trip happened two days ago and went to Kangaroo Valley, south-west of Sydney, where homes and wildlife were destroyed by fire. The town’s businesses have reported a 50% drop in projected earnings during the time of the fires.  

A photograph of a now disappeared sand sculpture near Barwon Heads in Victoria which shows a koala in a sunset surrounded by bushfire smoke has also become a hit attraction online. Seen by more than 120 million people it was one of many designed by an artist called Edward (who has the copyright along with photographer Adam Stan for the image we display) who says that he was urged to create the image after smelling the smoke in the air and seeing the strange sunset.

He constructed each piece of art below the tide line on secluded beaches, which meant most works lasted only hours before being washed away. He said each piece took about two hours to complete, and was done without any help from technology – just a small rake.

Along with the 400,000 who will watch the procession in the West Australian capital, Perth and all the other events today, there are some that will resonate with Aussies this year and the three I have mentioned are just some of those.

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