Bushfires in the Blue Mountains


A bush fire update was provided to the local community at a meeting held on Tuesday, 7 January 2020 at the Neighbourhood Centre at Lawson in the Blue Mountains in Sydney.

Bush fire teams in the Blue Mountains are attending to the fires currently occurring at Erskine Creek, Grose Valley and Ruined Castle. The teams strategically employ back burning operations from Wentworth Falls to Glenbrook using the fire trail network to reduce and contain fire hazard.

Back burning work that had been undertaken since April made it possible to stop the southerly progression of fires and kept fires away from villages on the northern side of the Great Western Highway.

Challenges faced by the crew were identified: not enough rainfall exacerbates the dry condition of the terrain. When it rains, backburning operations are postponed. Strong winds and lightning can trigger bushfires.

Sixty kilometres of backburning have now been completed.  The crew work with a well-resourced team that includes international participants and volunteers who have multi-level expertise associated with fighting bushfires.

Advice to residents

Fire info line- 1800679 737, road closures –www.livetraffic.com

Weather conditions – www.bom.gov.au

Before visiting national parks www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/aleerts

Updates from Scenic World – www.scenicworld.com.au

  • Have a fire plan
  • Talk to neighbours, know their plans and support each other
  • Stay clear of backburning operations
  • Stay indoors and close windows. Note that smoke will continue to impact the area
  • Have buckets of water on the ready for spot fires
  • Leaving early is the best option when fires directly threaten your area.


Other approaches

hazard reduction vs cultural burning


Hazard reductions are implemented based on prescription to meet identified objectives. Undertaking simultaneous burns at once can raise smoke issues resulting in illness and hospitalisation. Hazard reduction is aimed at slowing the progression of intense fire.

Cultural burning is not guided by prescription but by the Aboriginal Cultural Fire practitioner’s close relationship with Country. Cultural burning involves human beings, bandicoots, lyrebirds, wombats, brush turkeys and other species on the land. It uses a landscape-wide relational approach.

The key to cultural burning is the cultural practitioner’s intimate knowledge of Country. Knowledge of Country differs from place to place. Comprehensive knowledge of Country may have been lost during the colonial period. Are cultural practitioners then reliant on transferrable ‘cultural’ skills? How do cultural burning strategies differ from hazard reduction burning?

Ultimately, the litmus test of any approach is the efficacy of saving lives and property.