Rising from the ashes

Helping bushfire-ravaged Australian communities get back on their feet.

Australia is in the throes of rebuilding efforts following the devastating bushfires which saw lives lost, homes destroyed and businesses close their doors. 

In the aftermath to the catastrophic summer, Australians displayed their seemingly boundless generosity, donating cash and goods to help devastated communities.

Not content with simply donating, Eleanor Baillieu created Empty Esky, an initiative where foodies and adventurers are connected with businesses and communities affected by bushfires.

“We thought we would start an Instagram account inspired by people who are giving back and we could help fire impacted towns,” Ms Baillieu said.

“Within a few days we had over 10,000 followers, and it was gaining huge traction.

“We encouraged people to go out on the road with their empty esky and buy local to have that community experience and explore our backyard.

“We have an amazing backyard and it’s an incredible thing to explore and to have a holiday here but also knowing you’re supporting local businesses that were directly impacted by bushfires.”

Ms Baillieu said she and her business partners left their jobs to work full-time at Empty Esky which has now amassed more than 50,000 Instagram followers.

“We’re passionate people and love helping out and it was a great opportunity to do something for Australia,” she said.

“At the end of the day, it’s all because of the Australian spirit. 

“What we do would not be possible if it wasn’t for Australians getting around to local businesses and doing their bit.”

The Queensland Government has launched the ‘holiday here’ campaign to promote tourism following the bushfires and coronavirus outbreak.

“Bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak are having a big impact on our tourism industry,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

“Thousands of bookings have already been lost throughout the state… the best thing everyone can do to help out is to holiday here in Queensland.

“That’s why we’ve taken immediate action – launching an extensive advertising blitz throughout Australia to boost our domestic visitor numbers in 2020.”

Tourism Australia also launched a ‘holiday here this year’ campaign to help pump money back into regions affected by the bushfires.

“It’s critical that we help the industry get back on its feet as soon as possible,” Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said.

“That is why we are asking people to commit to holidaying in their own backyard this year.” 

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Helping our koalas 

RACQ members helped provide life-saving support for Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital and raised more than $70,000 to build the Koala Intensive Care Unit (KICU).

The first of its kind at Australia Zoo, the KICU helped to rehabilitate injured koalas and future-proof Queensland’s population of the marsupials.

Director of Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital Dr Rosie Booth said they may never know the full extent of damage the fires had on Queensland’s wildlife.

“We are so grateful for the support of RACQ and its members contributing to our efforts to assist hundreds of koalas that desperately need our help,” Dr Booth said.

 Koala

Australian bushfire figures: 

  • 33 human lives lost
  • 1bn+ animals killed
  • 12.6m+ hectares burned
  • 11.3m people smoke affected