Thousands of homes have been destroyed, 24 lives lost (at time of publishing) and millions of wildlife killed amid Australia's worst-ever bushfires, which have also seen holidaymakers and home owners stranded as a result of extensive road closures.
Over six-million hectares of land have been destroyed by blazes across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, many of them affecting popular tourist areas and rural hubs.
Travellers attempting to flee affected areas have encountered gridlocked traffic as a result of hundreds of road closures and reduced speed limits across the nation, with some drivers forced to sleep on the roadside amid slow-going mass evacuations.
On some routes, drivers were only allowed to proceed with a police escort.
As recently as January 6, 2020, a rescue effort was being carried out along a stretch of the Eyre Highway in Western Australia, where more than 300 drivers were left stranded at remote roadhouses after authorities closed major roads between Western Australia and South Australia.
If you're one of the many who have been trapped by road closures, or are looking to assess whether an upcoming road trip is still viable, there are several resources available to you.
Here's what you need to know about the bushfire road closures.
How to check for bushfire road closures in your state
Depending on where you are, there's likely a resource specific to the state you're driving in. They are as follows:
- New South Wales: Live Traffic NSW
- Victoria: VicTraffic
- South Australia: Traffic SA
- Queensland: QLDTraffic
- Tasmania: TASAlert
- Western Australia: Mainroads Western Australia
- ACT: City Services ACT
What to do if you encounter an unexpected road closure or fire
As of January 2020, the official advice from most state authorities is to avoid unnecessary travel within fire-affected areas at all costs. If you find yourself travelling in an affected area, keep your radio on to receive warnings and updates and download the relevant emergency app to your phone.
The NSW Rural Fire Service also advises packing an emergency kit, which should include a battery-operated radio, protective clothing, woollen blankets and water.
If you are caught in a fire while driving, you should call Triple Zero immediately. When parking your car in the event of an oncoming fire, opt for a clear area away from trees and grass and face the front of your car towards the fire.
The RFS advises staying in your car below the windows, "to protect yourself from radiant heat", ensuring you turn off the engine while turning on headlights and hazard lights and ensuring all windows and air vents are closed.
Cover yourself with a woollen blanket, cover your mouth with a damp cloth and stay hydrated. When exiting the car once the fire has passed, be aware that it will be hot and exit slowly and carefully once you are sure the fire has passed.
If you would like to donate to bushfire relief effort, you can give funds to the Red Cross, WIRES for wildlife victims, the Salvos, the Food Bank, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the CFA and the CFS Foundation for volunteer firefighters.