2018–19 Australian bushfire season

The bushfires were predicted to be "fairly bleak" in parts of Australia, particularly in the east, by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) chief executive, Richard Thornton, in September 2018. Large bushfires had already burned through southern New South Wales during winter. The outlook for spring was of a higher likelihood of fires with a twice the normal chance of an El Nino for summer. Many parts of eastern Australia including Queensland, New South Wales and Gippsland, in Victoria, were already in drought.[1] Above normal fire was also predicted for large parts of Southern Australia and Eastern Australia by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. The forecast noted that Queensland had recorded the ninth driest and fourth hottest period on record from April to November. New South Wales recorded the fourth hottest period and eighth driest on record, while Victoria experiences the 13th driest and seventh hottest period on record.[2] Authorities in New South Wales brought forward the start of the bushfire season for much of the state from October 2018 to the beginning of August 2018.[3]

2018–19 Australian bushfire season
NASA MODIS burned area detections from June 2018 to May 2019
Date(s)June 2018 – June 2019
CauseHeat, drought, El Niño

Fires by state or territory


New South Wales

July 2018

New South Wales experienced 525 fires in the last week of July, more than twice the number from the previous year.[3]

August 2018

On 15 August, a bushfire near Bega burned out 2,300 ha (5,700 acres) of inaccessible bushland and threatened properties. Another fire in Budawang National Park, near Ulladulla, blackened 1,516 ha (3,750 acres) and a third fire near Nowra destroyed outbuildings and forced residents to evacuate.[4] A firefighter named Alan Tully died on 17 August when his helicopter crashed while combating fires near Ulladulla.[5] A fire started near Salt Ash, north of Newcastle, on 18 August and two days later had burnt out 2,000 ha (4,900 acres), on 20 August 70 fires were burning around the state.[6]


December 2018

On 7th December a grassfire threatened the tiny town of Little River which is south west from Melbourne. The fire started at 11:42am and burnt at least 1,240 hectares.[7][8]

March 2019

On 1 March several fires were lit in the east of the state as the result of a band of dry lightning.[9] A bushfire in the Bunyip State Park destroyed 29 houses as well as 67 outbuildings and sheds over the following two days.[10]


November 2018

By 30 November, 144 bushfires were burning throughout Queensland at the end of a week where 200 fires had been battled by firefighters. High temperatures and strong winds made for difficult conditions and two houses, two cabins and 15 sheds were lost to fire with a further 14 houses damaged.[11]


January 2019

A series of bushfires started in Tasmania from late December as a result of lightning strikes.

This included The Gell River fire, Great Pine Tier fire and Riveaux Road fire which burned through a combined than 278,000 hectares of the Southwest National Park from December 2018 to March 2019,[12] occasionally through vegetation that was not fire resistant and will not regenerate.[13][14]

Four houses and several outbuildings were lost during the fires, including Churchill's Hut, built in the 1920s by Elias Churchill.[15]

Western Australia

October 2018

A bushfire, that started on 11 October, approximately 120 km (75 mi) south east of Broome burned through an area of 880,000 ha (2,200,000 acres). Adverse conditions, the remote location and a lack of water meant that the fire was fought using back-burning, constructing fire lines and using aircraft.[16]

January 2019

In mid-January, south western Australia experienced a major heatwave that triggered a large fire in Collie on 21 January, putting most of Collie at risk. The fire was extinguished the next day. About 160 ha (400 acres) was burnt out and four firefighters were hospitalised.[17]

February 2019

On 7 February, a large bushfire started in the Forrestdale Lake nature reserve in Forrestdale that put the suburbs of Forrestdale, Harrisdale and Piara Waters under an emergency warning. Over 144 ha (360 acres) was burned out with many vehicles and one home being destroyed.[18]

See also



  1. ^ "Fire chiefs around country warn Australia of bleak bushfire outlook". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 September 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018-19: Hazard Notes". Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Bushfire season brought forward in NSW by two months after 'next to no rain'". The Guardian. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  4. ^ "NSW bushfires: Bega, Ulladulla and Nowra fires downgraded but still out of control". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 August 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  5. ^ Jenny Noyes (17 August 2018). "Pilot dead after firefighting helicopter crashes on NSW South Coast". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  6. ^ Maani Truu (20 August 2018). "Residents told to remain vigilant as bushfire burns out of control". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  7. ^ Rose, Tamsin; Fuller, Peta; Welsh, Sophie; readDecember 8, Genevieve Alison4 min; 2018 - 8:06am (6 December 2018). "Little River fire under control, as authorities probe cause". heraldsun. Retrieved 24 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "UPDATE: Little River fire: Firefighter in hospital as police probe 'suspicious' grass fire". www.9news.com.au. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  9. ^ "More homes to burn in Vic fires". PerthNow. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Victorian authorities confirm 29 houses destroyed in Bunyip bushfire". ABC News. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Queensland bushfire threat still severe with residents in Deepwater and Mackay regions urged to stay on high alert". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  12. ^ "Tasmania's fire disaster revealed in satellite images showing the extent of the damage - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. February 2019.
  13. ^ "Photos reveal bushfire devastation in Tasmania's south-west wilderness - ABC News". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 12 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Firefighters pull out of Gell River blaze after almost 100 days, but job not over yet - ABC News". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 March 2019.
  15. ^ Monte Bovill and Chris Rowbottom. "Gell River blaze enters Mount Field National Park, Tasmanian Fire Service confirms". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Australia". Wildfire Today. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  17. ^ Emily Baker and Hayley Goddard (20 January 2019). "Collie escapes major damage as fire downgraded to Watch and Act". PerthNow.
  18. ^ "Fast-moving fire threatens Perth homes". Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 8 February 2019.