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The ship crews who saved a town from the bushfires

Every day, we hear more and more stories of the courage and grit shown by Australians in the midst of the bush fire tragedy happening over East right now. Fire fighters, volunteers, support crew and people donating money and vital items from all over Australia, show us that even in the midst of devastation, there are amazing people willing to do whatever it takes.

 

Yes, there are those who have done the unthinkable, by setting up fake donation pages and taking advantage of vulnerable families and businesses. But these instances really are the exception. More often than not, we have witnessed people performing acts of good – from average Aussies saving carloads of koalas to mums and dads working around the clock, without pay, to fight the blazes.

 

Today, we’re taking a moment to shine a light on another group of heroes who have made a difference to those affected by bushfires, we’re talking about the crews and ships who have supplied aid and helped people escape the fires.

 

Norwegian Far Saracen delivers support to East Gippsland

On New Year’s Eve, residents and tourists from the town of Mallacoota in East Gippsland huddled on the beach to escape the fire that had taken over their town. In response to an SOS call from Emergency Services Victoria, the Norwegian-flagged vessel Far Saracen arrived, with supplies for the thousands of people.

 

The crew, made up of 14 Aussies and Kiwis delivered 30 pallets of water and food, as well as diesel for CFA tankers and generators for the unpowered town. The Far Saracen usually delivers cargo to oil and gas drilling platforms, but was redirected by the gas company to support the town in the wake of the devastating bushfire. The Far Saracen and its crew were there for people while they waited for the HMAS Choules to evacuate them to Port Hastings, near Melbourne.

 

In a Facebook post acknowledging the crew, Victorian Police Officer Chris Nairey said.

 

“They worked tirelessly looking after sick people, the elderly, infants, even special needs teenagers. They fed us, they gave us beds. They maintained our [police] boats and kept an eye on them while we slept.”

 

HMAS Choules rescues town of Mallacoota

Evacuees gathered in an old town hall to discuss the evacuation of almost a quarter of the 4,000 townspeople on board the HMAS Choules. People were told that the sick or injured would take priority, then children, vulnerable people and those who wanted to leave.

 

Pets were also allowed to come with their owners; however people were urged to consider how they would fare on the journey. Although the evacuation was not compulsory, authorities explained that access to the town could be cut off for weeks.

 

The HMAS Choules made multiple journeys, transporting the people of Mallacoota to safety.

 

Ship crews making a difference

We are so thankful to the crews who came together to support the town of Mallacoota, as well as the firefighters who continue to put their life on the line every day. If you’d like to provide support to the people who have been affected by the fires, we have listed some charities who are making a big difference to the effort.

 

  • NSW Rural Fire Service – donations directly support volunteer firefighters who are on the frontline.
  • Victoria Country Fire Association – choose to donate to a specific brigade or give a general donation to the Victorian firies.
  • South Australia Bushfire Appeal  – this appeal raises funds for people who have been directly affected by fires on Kangaroo Island and on Cudlee Creek.
  • The World Wildlife Fund – donate to their ‘Help Save Koalas’ fund. WWF explain where your money goes and how you’ll help save koalas from extinction.
  • RSPCA  have appeals in Victoria, NSW and SA, which assist with the treatment and rescue of animals impacted during and after the fires.
  • For more information on where to donate, please head here.

 

If you have already donated or given to support people in bushfire affected areas, thank you.

Photo: HMAS Choules