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The bushfire-hit communities that need your tourist dollars

Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, Australia at its best. The area isn't ready for tourists just yet – but it will be in the future. (Source: Getty)

Australia’s bushfires have ravaged homes, properties, livestock, and economies – and the tourism industry is expected to take a $1.3 billion hit.

But there’s a way you can help the local towns, communities and their businesses that have been directly affected: support it with your tourism.

In a Facebook post, Australian traveller Tegan Weber encouraged people to plan their next road trip to the regional areas hit by bushfires.

“Go with empty skies, empty cars and low fuel,” Weber said. “Stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their camp grounds, buy from their shops, buy their fuel, buy bread and milk.”

Finder.com.au put together a list of the suburbs that could use some tourism with the dollars going straight into the communities that need it most.

Places to visit in the near future

  • Adelaide Hills, SA: The Adelaide Hills region has reopened for business, save for “very few exceptions”, though visitors have been told to remain vigilant and informed. Head on over for a drink – or if you can’t, you can support the Bushfire Support Wine Box.

  • Wisemans Ferry, NSW: It’s copped a major setback in tourism from the fires that swallowed Hawkesbury River, but according to Finder travel expert Stephanie Yip, Wisemans Ferry is a great place to visit for a weekend getaway when it gets the all-clear.

  • Blue Mountains, NSW: A popular destination for domestic and international travellers alike, the park is currently closed, but won’t stay that way forever – so put it back on your travel list soon.

  • Mogo Zoo, NSW: Some small animals were evacuated in the wake of the fires, but of those that remained, not a single animal was lost. It’s currently closed for clean-up, but is looking to re-open soon, said Yip.

  • Batemans Bay, NSW: The new year saw images of Batemans Bay’s blood-red skies shared across social media. But the local swimming pool, and hotels like Bay Breeze Motel remain open.

  • Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, NSW: The air quality index in Port Macquarie rose to 1,739 in November, but it’s been recovering since then, though small bushfires remain.

  • Jervis Bay, NSW: This popular seaside escape is said to have the whitest sand in the world, making it a tourist favourite on most days – but visitors have been told to stay away due to the bushfire season. National parks have been closed until 16 January, so keep an eye on it.

Where to keep tabs on

NSW

  • Kosciuszko National Park: The area has remained under high alert and the park will stay closed until the fire ceases – but visit neighbouring Perisher and Thredbo resorts in your sights when winter comes along, said Yip.

  • Eden: This area has been badly hit by the fires, so consider Airbnbs in the region when it reopens for business.

  • Shoalhaven (Milton, Mollymook, Ulladulla, Manyana, Nowra and Lake Conjola): Both tourists and locals were told to evacuate, and the region may remain closed until summer passes.

  • Narooma: The south coast town is threatened by fires, and though the city is safe, some locals have been evacuated and people are currently steering clear.

  • Penrith: Located in the west of Sydney, the mercury in Penrith soared to record highs recently, but the area offers activities like wake-boarding, go-karting, axe throwing and jetpacking.

  • Bega: Famous for its cheese, the city’s dairy farms lost 800,000 litres of cheese. If you can’t visit the town, you can show support by purchasing their products.

South Australia

  • Kangaroo Island: The area lost land, wildlife and its luxury retreat to the bushfires and is currently asking for donations. But it doesn’t mean they’re closed for business: you can visit Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island Outdoor Action, Little Sahara and Raptor Domain – Kangaroo Island Birds of Prey, according to Yip.

Victoria

  • East Gippsland: Tourism here has dropped dramatically due to the fires that destroyed hundreds of homes, but keep it in mind during winter when you could visit Mount Baw Baw.

  • Mallacoota: It will be a while yet before this area is safe to visit, but you can donate to their Mallacoota Fires Support Fund in the meantime.

Tasmania

  • Fingal Valley: When the area recovers after fires burnt thousands of hectares, walk through its white gum forest and stunning waterfalls.

Bear in mind some businesses aren’t quite ready to host tourists just yet. But you can still support them through Australian burns survivor Turia Pitt’s Spend With Them Instagram account that showcases local businesses that have been affected by the fires.

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