What happens when your Australia vacation goes up in smoke?

Do you have plans in place, before you leave home, to deal with emergency situations during your vacation? Travel Insurance to get reimbursed if travel plans are altered or cancelled. Maybe special insurance to have you or your travel mate repatriated back home if one of you has the misfortune to die while on vacation? How about just a simple plan to relocate if your resort is surrounded by fire and you are able to get out safely but need a new place to stay? When the world turns upside-down, do you know where to find the info you need to make the best decision to relocate when you need to.

Our plan was to spend a week at Port MacQuaire, which is about half way between Sydney and Brisbane, followed by a week in Sydney. So, if you happen to travel to Sydney or the various points of interest in the surrounding areas, here are a couple of websites worth knowing about.

On is the local traffic website that gives you a heads up about road closures, construction info along roadways, special events that may cause traffic issues, and as we have learned over the past couple of weeks, road closures because of brush fires. It is called Live Traffic NSW.  https://www.livetraffic.com/desktop.html

For our friends in the northern hemisphere, we worry about fires from May through October. Down under, our friends in Australia worry about fires from spring through fall, November through April. In addition to the traffic reports noted above, they have a special site that gives you info about the fires in that local area. It is called Fires Near Me.  https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/fire-information/fires-near-me

With those thoughts in mind, make sure that you are following these websites before you leave home because you many need to cancel your reservations and find a new location to stay.

Unfortunately we did not know about these sites before we left home, and the resort we were staying in did not bother to send us an email to let us know about the fire danger near their resort

When we arrived at Sydney and started our drive to Port MacQuaire in November 2019, we noticed several brush fires along the way as we could see the red-orange glow in the night sky as we traveled up the A1 highway. What we did not realize was that the fires near Port Macquaire had been burning for 2 months. Everything was smoky. Difficult to breathe.

By watching the local news to find out the extent of the fires, we did discover the two above websites, and after a while, made the decision to get reservations further south at the Shoal Bay Resort in Port Stephens. Thanks the above sites, we were able to determine that although the main highway south, the A1, was closed they provided an alternate route to escape the fires so that we could relocate to a new resort.

Since we were using our timeshare points for the resort stays, I was able to log into the system and book the Port Stephens area resort. As you might expect, I have already sent a note to the timeshare company to get a refund of the points for the original stay since the resort failed to notify us of the ongoing fire issue.

It is one thing to be surprised by fires, but they had been living with the local fires for 2 months and they have no excuse for not notifying us before we left home.