It’s no secret that many Aussie communities – particularly small and regional towns – have been doing it tough. We’re in the midst of one of the worst droughts in 800 years and we’ve been experiencing the most extreme bushfire season in recorded history. The recent rain has brought much-needed relief to some areas, but the heavy downpours have also brought flooding to some parts (as if fires and drought weren’t enough!).
We’ve also seen incredible generosity, awesome community spirit and more than a few great examples of cheeky Aussie humour (if you haven’t seen the clip where the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park team convince a Scottish reporter she’s holding a deadly dropbear instead of a sleepy koala, it’s priceless!). But it’ll take more than that to help affected communities rebuild and recover. They need our support, not just now, but in the months and years ahead. And, thankfully, there’s heaps we can do! Here are four easy (and fun!) ways you can help Aussie towns and communities doing it tough.
1. Spend with them and buy from the bush
This is a great one that you can do right now (well, after you finish reading this blog post 😉). One of the best ways you can support small and regional communities is by spending your money with them – and it’s easy to do, because they produce some of the best food, wine, spirits, fashion, jewellery, homewares and gifts in the country. Yessssss!
Hop on Instagram and check out @buyfromthebush and @spendwiththem for some awesome recommendations on where to start. Follow the #buyfromthebush and #spendwiththem hashtags as well to see what other people have bought. Make sure you post pics of your purchases (with hashtags) too 🛍️
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Don’t need anything yourself? Check out It’s My Shout, where you can “buy” virtual products to support disaster-affected small businesses. You can also shout actual products, which will be given to locals. You can shout anything from a “Coffee for a hero” to a new wardrobe for someone who’s lost their home. Follow @ItsMyShout on Instagram.
2. Grab an empty esky and hit the road!
Have you heard of the Empty Esky campaign? It’s a movement of self-declared “foodies and adventurers” on a mission to support small businesses affected by the bushfires. Their message is simple: grab an empty esky, drive to an affected community and stock up on delicious and unique local produce and goods. It’s like @buyfromthebush and @spendwiththem, except you get the fun of a road or day trip too.
The beauty of an Empty Esky trip is that your adventure can be as long or as short as you like. If you’ve only got a day, visit somewhere close to home. If you’ve got a long weekend, why not check out a couple of towns (as many as your esky – or hungry tummy – can handle)? Before you go, just check the current conditions for your destination to make sure it’s safe and the roads are open. Keep an eye on the weather (who doesn’t love the BOM?) and check the SES page for your state for any recent warnings (especially if there’s been storms). And like any road trip, make sure your car has had a recent tune-up and you’ve got a spare tyre in the boot 😊
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3. Holiday here this year
You might not realise it, but tourism is a major part of most small-town economies. Your weekend getaway supports businesses all over town – from the cute B&B you stay at and the café with the amaaaazing big brekkie to the restaurant where you have dinner and the pit stop with the delicious donuts (you know the one I mean 😉).
For many Aussie destinations, their peak travel time is during the summer school holidays – and, unfortunately, that’s exactly when the 2019-2020 bushfire season seemed to peak. This meant that many towns already suffering from the drought were not only hit with devastating bushfires as well, but they also missed out their peak tourism season – and all of the business (and cash) that goes with it.
That’s why one of the most powerful things you can do is holiday here, in Australia, this year. It’s a perfect excuse to get out and see more of this incredible country (as if you needed one), get off the beaten track and discover some real hidden gems. You can tick off some of your Aussie travel bucket list, though you’ll probably end up adding a few new items to it too.
As in the previous section, the main thing you need to do before you go is make sure your destination is ready for and welcoming visitors. Start by checking out Holiday Here This Year on Australia.com, as well as the latest Australian travel alerts. And remember to be sensitive to what these communities have gone – and are continuing to go – through. Keep your sightseeing to obvious tourist spots, like local attractions, beaches and national parks 😊
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Want to share your Holiday Here plans with your friends and fam? RSVP to Australia.com’s Facebook event here. Remember to use the #holidayherethisyear hashtag when you post your pics!
4. Get social
Noticing a trend here? Yep, many of these campaigns are starting and growing online – and that’s the best place for you to get involved and discover new ideas as they appear. You can start by following the accounts mentioned in this post, but make sure you follow the pages and hashtags for your fave destinations as well. They’ll have the most up-to-date info for their regions, as well as some awesome tripspiration. Some great ones to get you started are @Australia and #holidayherethisyear, @VisitNSW and #LoveNSW and #RecoveryWeekend, and @southaustralia and #bookthemout.PLAN YOUR AUSSIE GETAWAY