Fighting the fire: A traveler’s diary into Australia’s bushfires

Australia is burning, yes. And I need your help!

A year ago, I went to Australia because I’ve always heard good things about it.

Koalas, Kangaroos, warm weather and nice people. What's not to love?

Koala eating eucalyptus leaves at the Healesville Sanctuary.

As a backpacker travelling on a budget, the easiest way to live a real Australian lifestyle was working on farms.

I used the volunteer program called “WWOOF” which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

When I came across Margaret and Victoria Royds’ profile I quickly knew I’d learn so much from them.

Their biography read “Our passion is Regenerative Agriculture with an emphasis on soil health to produce nutrient dense food.”

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a farmer. I’m a city girl, but their bio spoke to me.

When I arrived in Braidwood located in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, it was Margaret Royds who picked me up at the bus stop. She’s 80 years old, but she’s got a tough character, she’s strong and works hard to maintain her land healthy and prosperous.

Margaret and I planting trees at her solar cottage "Bohun House".

“Bedervale” is the name of her property she owned with her husband for decades. She gave it to her daughter Sonia. It is now a heritage National Trust listed homestead situated on a 450 hectare cattle and sheep property.

Her daughter Victoria has “Clarevale” a Holistic Managed property of 465 hectares.

Her son Martin's main farm, ‘Jillamatong’ is 450 hectares. His goal is to manage the land by focusing on regenerative farming practices.

Margaret lives in her solar cottage called "Bohun House" on the historic Berdevale property.

I remember Margaret telling me every morning over coffee how much rain fell the night before—if it rained at all.

She would write it down on her wall calendar in the laundry room.

Words like “bushfire” and “drought” were new to me.

2018 was considered a very dry summer in Australia.

I vividly remember having only 10 minutes to shower so that we’d save water for the animals and for the ground.

Victoria Royds' cattle on Clarevale, in Braidwood.

It’s in Adelaide Hills where I learned the importance of mulch to keep your soil cool.

It's in Healesville where I learned how and when to water your veggie patch with drought in mind.

It’s with Margaret that I learned how to get rid of nasty weeds by simply ripping them out of the ground.

It’s with Victoria that I learned how to fence and how to keep her cows and soil healthy by applying the principles of Holistic Management Framework.

She explained to me that years ago there were no trees on her land— 465 hectares and not a single tree. (OMG!)

Here's my interview with her:

Victoria is an artist but she came home years ago to help her mother breed cows. She’s never left since.

She’s focusing on creating biodiversity on the land even if it dries up in the hotter months.

She isn’t only focusing on having more grass but how she can regenerate soil with the help of cattle.

According to her, the cheapest way to regenerate soil with cattle grazing.

She’s separated her paddocks into smaller ones so her cows can graze for an intense period of time which would allow longer rest periods for soil.

Raking leaves at "Bohun House."

Australia has been burning since September and an end to the fires does not seem to be near.

Officials say the fires could take months to extinguish.

Australian farmers always fought the land, fought the droughts, fought the fires, fought the weeds.

Some are learning to encourage nature to grow through simple principles.

But, the fires we are seeing today are uncontrollable. The bushfires have ruined rural communities and livelihoods.

The Royds family replied to my email letting me know that Martin lost half of Jillamatong's grass, but his house has been saved.

All the men have left town because they are fighting the fires and have been doing so for months.

Many are taking fruit and vegetables out into the bush to feed the animals.

There hasn't been any water so the rivers and creeks have stopped flowing which means gardens have dried up leaving many starving and looking for food.

The email reads "the town is suffering as the roads are closed so there aren't any tourists."

Me in Braidwood, Canberra region - December 2018.

I need your help, here’s why:

  • 14.6 MILLION ACRES of Australia's natural environment and farmland has burned since September and the fires are still blazing.

  • OVER 200 FIRES ARE BURNING across the country.

  • 500 MILLION ANIMALS have died as a result of the bushfires.

  • 24 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED and many are still not accounted for.

  • THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE are trapped with no water or food


I've researched a few places where you can donate:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief

Salvation Army Disaster Appeal

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Influence For Good: Aussie Influencers for Australia

#australiawearewithyou #australia #australiafires #australiabushfires #holisticfarming #canberra #braidwood #australiafarming


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