news

18 of the most disarming photos of Australia's bushfire crisis, and the stories behind them.

For further information on how you can help those affected by the bushfires, read our post here.

Australia is currently facing the worst bushfire season on record, with over seven million hectares having been burned.

So far, 23 people have been killed and half a billion animals have perished. Thousands of people have lost their homes across the nation. The world has reacted in shock, as they observe the red skies and black clouds from afar.

These photos show just some of the devastation and horror caused by the infernos, and the stories behind the images.

Canberra, ACT

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Facebook/Jodie Wilkinson.

This photo was taken on descent to Canberra on Saturday, 4 January 2020.

"Seeing the fires from this perspective was both fascinating and devastating at the same time," Jodie told Mamamia. "It made me think about what the clouds consisted of, including people, homes, memories and habitats. But most of all, it felt like I was looking at the souls of 500 million lost animals. I grew up with no religion but then I prayed for widespread soaking rains to end this disaster and restore some hope."

Kanoona, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Supplied/Samantha Westaway.
ADVERTISEMENT

This photo was taken on Sunday, the 5th of January 2020. Samantha Westaway tells Mamamia it was "after the most terrifying day we have ever seen here at Kanoona NSW".

"January 4th was 47.5 degrees, 70km winds. We had fires from the North, south and west of us. Absolutely surrounded, no embers hit our place. But we were ready on all fronts - a home is nothing if you don’t have a family to live in it. We were ready to leave, headed straight to the east. The beach!"

She adds: "A day I will never forget. But we are here. And that’s what matters most."

Batemans Bay, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: AAP/Megan Juresa.

This is a photo from Batemans Bay, NSW, on New Year's Eve.

ADVERTISEMENT

"People were terrified, huddled together, trying to take shelter on the beach," a witness told AAP. "Then the bush on the beach caught fire, the sky was deepening red and black, and I ran back to my hotel room to take shelter from the heat. It was like being in the centre of hell."

NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Reddit.

After seven nights in the fires, Angel the cat returned home. The photo on the left is her before the fires, and the photo on the right is her when she returned. Her owner Pixie shared: "Our cat came home after missing in the fires for 7 nights. She’s burnt but should live. We thought her lost when the fire consumed most of our property. Best feeling ever to walk out and see her alive."⁠

Stirling Range, WA

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Instagram/ryno_thecaptain.
ADVERTISEMENT

"I was lucky enough to capture an amazing moment with my good mate, Lindsey, a Parks and Wildlife Firefighter. Lindsey hand fed water to a Joey he named Jerry," photographer Ryan Pollock said. "This was such an emotional moment. After Jerry had a belly full of water he bounced off into unburnt bush land."

Mallacoota, Victoria

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Twitter/brendanh_au.

'My sister in a BRIGHT ORANGE work suit blending in with the Mallacoota sky,' writes Brendan on New Year's Eve in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. On NYE, approximately 4000 people were evacuated and sought shelter at a beach in Mallacoota as an out of control bushfire moved in on the small town.

Braidwood, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: bighorsepic.
ADVERTISEMENT

"This photo was taken at 2.34 AM December 30, 2019, whilst I (East Jindabyne RFS member) was working as a RFS crew member with a crew from the Smiths Road Brigade (from South of Canberra)," volunteer firefighter and photographer Brendan tells Mamamia.

"We were doing property protection – off the Kinds Highway (on River Forest Road) preventing fires from getting to, in this case, a Llama farmers home, stock and infrastructure. Our night shift finished at 8am; that fire having been contained. Interestingly, the crews ages ranged from 17, 22, 40 and 65. A mixed bag - strangers working together successfully."

Batlow, NSW

australia bushfire facts
Image: Twitter/Kelly_J_Small.

A photo taken at Batlow by a firefighter. A total of 180,000 hectares were burned at the Dunns Road fire as it engulfed the town of Batlow, a town with a population of 1400. Local resident James Zimmerman livestreamed the fires on Facebook.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mallacoota, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Getty.

This photo was taken in Mallacoota on January 2. Taken by Darrian Traynor for Getty Images, it shows bushfires burning between the townships of Bemm River and Cann River in eastern Gippsland.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: AAP.

This photo was taken in early January, 2020 by Dana Mitchell from the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. It shows a rescued koala injured in a bushfire in Kangaroo Island, South Australia. The devastating wildfires have undone decades of careful conservation work on Kangaroo Island and have threatened to wipe out some of the island's unique fauna altogether.

ADVERTISEMENT

Conjola, NSW

australia bushfire crisis photos
Image: Facebook/Jenna O'Keeffe.

Jenna O'Keeffe writes on her Facebook, "This is a picture of my Dad getting 5 mins sleep on our front lawn, while my brother keeps watch over the fire burning at the top of our farm after he finished his 10th 12 hr+ day in a row fighting voluntarily in the community with the RFS NSW.

Jenna continues: "They are tired, they are sore, and they are running out of resources.

"Today I heard my Dad cry, he said 'Jen I have never seen anything like this, it’s never ending'. We still have over 50 days of summer left we aren’t even half way and there is currently no end in sight."

Batemans Bay, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Heidi Hanlon.
ADVERTISEMENT

"We had evacuated Catalina at around 8.30am after watching flames rip over a ridge behind us from the kitchen window," tells South Coast photographer Heidi Hanlon. "Having a deep respect for how fast things can escalate with wind and fire there was no hesitation to leave. We decided to cross the river with hopes that Surfside would provide a safe distance from the flames. We pulled up and walked onto the beach with utter disbelief in what we were witnessing unfold across the river.

"Massive plumes of smoke bellowing into the air, explosions, and several helicopters hard at work on an area in Catalina that we would later learn many houses were lost. Heartbreaking."

Mallacoota, Victoria

bushfire photos australia 2020
Image: Supplied.

Teena Hartrup and her young family arrived in Mallacoota in Victoria’s Gippsland late on December 29th for a long awaited holiday. They were some of the last evacuated over the weekend, because they had children under 5. Authorities thought it was too dangerous to get them on the ships and made them wait so they could take them by air.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The kids woke up screaming many times last night, and I am wandering around not knowing where to start. How do I get back to ‘normal’?" Hartrup told Mamamia.

"I’ve had a good cry, and I just feel so guilty that we get to come home, and others have lost their whole homes."

Currumbin, Queensland

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Instagram/currumbinwildlifehospital.

This is a photo from Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in Queensland. In 2008, the animal hospital saw 27 koalas in total. In 2019, that number rose to 600 koalas, and they continue to come in due to the bushfire crisis.

You can donate to their GoFundMe page here.

Currowan, NSW

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

This satellite image shows the terrifying extent of the Currowan wildfire in New South Wales.

Stirling Range, WA

Image: Ryan Pollock.

Taken on December 28, 2019, by Ryan Pollock of the Stirling Range in Western Australia. It was the second day of fighting fires there. Sitrling Range is one of Western Australian's most popular national parks.

Sarsfield, Victoria

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

A view of a home destroyed by the ferocious bushfires taken on January 03, 2020 in Sarsfield, Victoria.

Orbost, Victoria

bushfire australia photos 2020
Image: Getty.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Country Fire Authority Crews monitor fires and begin back burns between the towns of Orbost and Lakes Entrance in east Gipplsland on January 02, 2020 in Australia.

If you want to help, you can donate funds to the organisations below:

... And there's more.

Mamamia Out Loud, our bi-weekly podcast, is coming to Melbourne for a live show, with 100 per cent of all ticket proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund.

It's a brand new show, full of laughs and news and opinions and a few special surprises, with Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and Jessie Stephens, on February the 11th. You can buy tickets right now at mamamia.com.au/events. See you there! 


Sign up for the "Mamamia Daily" newsletter. Your morning hit of the top news stories, to be consumed with a coffee in hand.


00:00 / ???