Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A mother and her kids are sheltering in their boat on the water near Mallacoota.

A mother and her kids are sheltering in their boat on the water near Mallacoota. (Photo: Nicole Asher/ABC Gippsland/Twitter)

'Unprecedented National Crisis': Australians Flee to the Water as Fires Consume Coastal Town on Southern Coast in Victoria

"Absolutely devastating."

Eoin Higgins, staff writer

Australians in the southeastern coastal town of Mallacoota are spending New Year's Eve in the water—the only safe place from bushfires raging in the area that have turned the midday sky blood orange and black.

"I'll say it again, unprecedented national crisis," tweeted University of Sydney professor Joanne Arciuli, noting that Mallacoota, in the southeastern state of Victoria, is only one of the areas of the country facing devastating fires.

Pictures and video coming out of Mallacoota paint a stark picture of the consequences of the fires. Images of families in boats in the bay, miles from the flames, are backdropped by hazy smoke in the skies. 

Australia has endured bushfires around the country since September, and there's no end in sight. As Common Dreams reported on December 21, the fires form a ring around the country. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a proponent of coal burning power plants, has been criticized for his response to the fires. On Christmas Eve, as Common Dreams reported, firefighters in the country complained that the Australian leader was ignoring their requests for emergency pay and support. 

Morrison is scheduled to visit India from January 13-16 to find deals for Australia's coal industry, a decision that is coming under fire as his country burns. 

"Time to ask Scott Morrison how he justifies a coal sales trip to India as the #ClimateEmergency grips Australia?" tweeted Global Greens ambassador Christine Milne.

Australian film critic Matt Brady said on Twitter that the crisis in Mallacoota was laying bare another issue: how Australia has changed for the worst in recent decades. 

"I feel like 30+ years ago, Aussies with boats from would be flocking to help evacuate Mallacoota of their own volition," said Brady. "But Australia is a crueller and more selfish place now and our sense of community and solidarity has been killed off so that doesn't seem to be happening."

"Would love to be proved wrong!" he added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Elephant in the Room' Is Senate Democrats Blocking Their Own Party's Agenda

"The argument that we need to make here," the New York Democrat said of bipartisanship's dead end, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal Failure' for All the World to See

"Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·