After planning our second trip to the Great Ocean Road nearly two months ago, we weren’t expecting a widespread bushfire to alter our plans.
Unfortunately, the combination of a lighting storm, dry land and hot temperatures caused a large bushfire on Christmas Day that has destroyed more than 100 houses along this famous tourist route. The fire occurred in and near the small towns of Wye River and Separation Creek. According to the latest Melbourne news, the fire still continues to burn in dense bushland about 6km west of Wye River; and more than 200 firefighters are battling this blaze.
A small section of the Great Ocean Road had been closed because of the fires, but just reopened yesterday (January 6th). Basically, we got lucky because we started our road trip on the same day.
You could tell where the fire had jumped across the road and consumed any remaining vegetation along the beach.
This was my first experience seeing the damaging effects of a fire upclose and I was shocked. I thought about all those displaced people and animals that called this beautiful area of Australia home. How long will it take to rebuild their homes? How long will it take for the forest to rebound and turn green again?
|Driving through the small town of Wye River on January 6th, 2016, you can certainly see where the bushfires hit.|
But at the same time, it’s important to note that the Great Ocean Road IS open for business.
These small communities rely heavily on tourism, and they need YOUR support. The month of January is one of the busiest tourism months because children are on school break. There’s still plenty to see and do along the GOR.
We have three days to re-explore this lovely area that’s famous for its beautiful beaches and sweeping landscapes.
I can’t wait.
Important information to note from the Great Ocean Road Tourism Site:
- No vehicles will be allowed to stop between Cumberland River and Wye River bridge. This includes look-out points and pull-over areas on the sides of the road.
- The turnoff for Sheaok Falls is closed.
- Speed limits have been reduced, and there is a stronger police presence along the road.
- There is restricted access to residential areas in Wye River North and Separation Creek due to the health and safety risks from the bushfire that has affected the area. Residents of these areas have been granted limited access.
- If you see wildlife that appear injured or distressed, please contact the Wildlife Welfare Officer on 5233 5565.