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Episode 238 S6-38

Extreme Weather: Australian Wildfires


Special Guest:

The Endless Night Ch 38

Ellen Kerr

Ellen Kerr, our Australian Royal Navy authority, shares her experiences in the Australian wildfires, following the final chapter of the novel, The Endless Night. Learn about the story, Australian policies, and how they are affecting the natural cycles of Australia.

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The mainstream media blamed climate change for the Australian Wildfires. There is a possibility that it has contributed but the truth that many people don’t want to face is that bureaucratic mismanagement is probably much more to blame. The Australian government has stopped backburning during the winter to appease environmental lobbyists and removal of the dead brush is prohibited. Firewood collection is forbidden and in most urban areas, wood-burning fireplaces are restricted. Obtaining a permit is the only legal way to burn one.

The environmentalists claim that it is best to allow the “natural” cycle of the forest to happen without the presence of man. However, the argument can be made that man is part of the natural cycle. They have been living and harvesting the forest in the area of deadfall for thousand of years. The government’s focus on winning votes rather than caring for the bush has caused an ebb and flow of adequate and inadequate funding to the fire services. The environmental activists are continually raising a fuss over leaving the forest in its “natural” state. They chain themselves to bulldozers to stop the machines from making fire breaks. In Victoria last year there were major protests over backburning that stopped the activity. Later that year the fires burned out of control devastating the area.


Australia has indeed been in significant drought for the last five to six years. This drought created vast swaths of arid land. Misdirected cigarette butts, a crack of lightning and even arsonists are only a few of the ways the fires get started. In many areas of Australia, the National Parks separate the towns from the coast. These parks become completely overgrown because the environmentalists insist they remain in a “natural” state. The problem is, the communities are on the other side of the National Park, and to get to the coast, everyone drives through them. This level of activity leaves them open to many perils that start fires. Once one National Park lights up, it starts fires in the neighboring parks. All these fires join together to become super fires, complete with their own weather patterns. Many towns were caught in the crossfire.

Most homeowners with homes under a bank loan have homeowner's insurance. This coverage typically covers bush fires. However, many renters or people with paid-off homes don’t carry this coverage. There have been over five hundred homes and businesses lost in the Australian Wildfires. All these claims will certainly increase premiums. As soon as the fires subsided for a moment, there were hails storms dropping hail the size of baseballs, further increasing the number of claims. Queensland is suffering from massive flooding. Usually, the rain would be a good thing but the drought has left the ground dry and cracked. Too much water at once on this type of parched soil will run off, taking the valuable topsoil with it.

Animals at the Australia Zoo needed rescuing, and true to their purpose, the Irwins saved thousands of animals with critical injuries. Learn how to help the effort at


The Australian Red Cross is another great place to donate to

In the future, there may be very little change. The councils (like counties in the US) are stopping individuals from making defensible space around their homes. No trees are allowed to be removed and no firebreaks are permitted to be made. The next few years will indeed be very interesting. Great ideas are often presented but then the changing bureaucracies bring stagnation and the plans for prevention are forgotten.

Smoke and air quality was a significant problem during the fires. Ash accumulated on cars and in homes. The N95 masks sold out and the wildfires cut supply lines.

Ellen’s first preparedness tip is to stock the N95 masks well ahead of time. Then she suggests that you try to make your space as defensible as possible. Be ready with your go-bags for a five-minute evacuation. Fuel up your car well ahead of time. Ellen knows her routes out and suggests you know your area as well. Finally, she recommends staying informed. You have to have up to date news so you can take appropriate action well ahead of time.

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The Endless Night Ch 38

Ellen Kerr

Born in 1980 in Australia, Ellen Louis Kerr, has been married for 16 years to her wonderful spouse, Brian. They have two daughters Miriam and Emma. Plus, 2 spoiled cats, 2 ducks, 1 budgie and two lizards. (What is a budgie you ask? A budgie is a native Australian Bird short for budgerigar. They are a popular pet in Australia.)

Ellen joined the Royal Australian Navy in 2003 and served for fourteen years. She has earned the rank of Leading Seaman and is an Electronic Warfare Director at sea. When she's on the shore she works in the field of electronic intelligence. Ellen was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2005 as part of the allied task force on board HMAS Darwin for which she is now recognized as a veteran. She has also deployed to and took part in numerous exercises in New Zealand, Hawaii and South East Asia.

In her spare time she practices Hapkido and works on staying prepared for whatever may come our way. Ellen enjoys camping, fishing, shooting and four wheeling. She loves SIFI and end of the world genre material. Her favorite TV show is Firefly. She loves her ducks and motorbikes.

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