The cartoons below have been embedded from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Cartoons are a form of visual representation of ideas, views and concepts. It is important that students develop skills in interpreting cartoons. Interpreting cartoons involves knowledge of the context of the cartoon, identifying different issues being explored in the cartoon, identifying the techniques used by the artist, and considering the views or opinions that the artist is trying to convey.
- What is the cartoon about?
- Who is represented in the cartoon? Why?
Knowledge of the context:
- What events have happened?
- Look at the date of the cartoon. What events had happened at the time the cartoon had been drawn?
- Who are the key people/roles involved in the event/issue?
Identifying issues explored:
- What can you see in the cartoon? What words are used?
- What concepts are being explored?
- Has the artist used symbolism, irony, analogy or exaggeration in communicating?
- Is the cartoon persuasive?
Views and opinions:
- Can you identify the political views or perspective of the artist?
- How are these views or perspective communicated?
- What other opinions are there about this issue?
Fires around Port Macquarie, Lake Cathie and Lake Innes began in November 2019. As of 21 January the Crestwood Drive, Port Macquarie fire had burnt out 3572ha, while the connected Lindfield Park rd, Port Macquarie fire had burnt out 859ha.
The Lake Innes Nature Reserve was home to a flourishing koala colony. Between 350 and 600 koalas are believed to have died in the fires around the Lake Innes area.
The image on the left is a screenshot of the RFS Fires Near Me app showing the location and extent of the Port Macquarie fires. The screenshot on the right shows the size of the Port Macquarie fires in relation to other fires in the mid-North Coast region.
Photos below show the aftermath of the fire - taken on 17 January, 2020.
The post below from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services indicate that while the fire around Lake Innes was extinguished, there remains risk for future fires flaring even several months later. The post below was posted on January 21.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital
Following the fire a number of injured koalas required intensive care. The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital was inundated
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has a large number of koalas in care. The least injured/ill koalas are available for public viewing, while those most injured are screened from public viewing for their own wellbeing. Below is an example of the management of koalas, their injury/illness and treatment.
Go Fund Me Campaign
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital set up a Go Fund Me Page to raise much needed funds to support care for injured koalas and to establish drinking stations and a breeding program for koalas in the region. The initial goal was for $25,000. By 21 January, the campaign had raised nearly $7.5 million dollars. The scope of the projects originally proposed have now been expanded in light of the huge amount of money raised.
Port Macquarie Koala Hospital - Go Fund Me.
Spatial dimensions - Location and extent
A timeline of the ring of fire around NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Aerial footage shows bushfires raging in the Australian state of Victoria
"Uncharted territory": Berejiklian says fire crisis in unprecedented.
Two fires have been upgraded to an emergency level as the state looks at a horror afternoon.
When bushfires make their own weather.
Intense "firestorms" forming from Australia's deadly wildfires.
Supercell bushfire thunderstorms, tornadoes, fire-whirls and other deadly fires that spin.
The bushfires in Australia are so big they're generating their own weather - "pyrocumulonimbus" thunderstorms that can start more fires.
BBC on Australian bushfires
Weirs continued to flow through drought and fires
This is not normal: Explaining Bushfires and Climate Change
Bushfire survival supersedes Christmas plans as firefighters battle infernos
How to monitor the bushfires raging across Australia.
Full List of Fire and Emergency Chiefs' recommendations to the Federal Government.
A load of rubbish: Greg Mullins says he wants a more proactive approach to fires and climate change
Prescribed burning: what is it and will more reduce bushfire risks?
Bushfires and Climate Change
This is not normal: Explaining Bushfires and Climate Change
Explainer: What are the underlying causes of Australia's shocking bushfire season
Bureau of Meteorology chart shows how temperatures have soared in Australia in the past century
Australian wildfires threaten Sydney water supplies.
Sydney temperatures pass 41C as firefighters injured, homes destroyed, state of emergency declared.
Nations counts cost of Australian blazes after community devastated.
Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global air study.
Bushfire death toll rises as fires sweep across South Australia and NSW
Saving Balmoral: on the bushfire battle lines as a town is threatened with extinction.
"This is hurting" Heartache and hardworking inside RFS headquarters.
Western Australia bushfires devastate the Stirling Ranges - one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots.
SA hard hit as Australian fires burn into the night - as it happened.
Sydney smoke three times worse this NSW bushfire seasons, but health effects from "medium-term" exposure unclear.
We are seeing the very worst of our scientific predictions come to pass in these bushfire.
Fire damage shuts Blue Mountains line to electric trains for months.
Health impacts of bushfires won't be known for years, experts say.
For First Nations people the bushfires bring a particular grief, burning what makes us who we are.
"Australia's first climate change refugees"
Massive queues as people flee NSW towns ahead of worsening bushfire threat.
Bushfire ravages main strata of NSW town Cobargo
Darkness at noon: Australia's bushfire of terror
Thousands swarm to Australian beaches to escape bushfire
Australian bushfires from the air: before and after images show scale of devastation.
NSW fires: Financial shock looms for those looking to rebuild, RFS boss warns.
Cut off: How the Mallacoota fire unfolded.
Impacts on wildlife
"Silent death": Australia's bushfires push countless species to extinction.
Animals have an astounding response to bushfire.
Koala's are the face of Australian tourism: What now after the fires?
Carers pushed to breaking point: Cash needed to rebuild animal populations, Greens say.
As fires rage across Australia, fears grow for rare species.
South Australia's iconic Kangaroo Island could see rare species wiped out after devastating bushfires.
"Starvation event" shows wildlife may need human help to survive.
Australia fires: humanitarian group describes "apocalyptic scenes of wildlife devastation on Kangaroo Island
Koalas could be listed as endangered in parts of the country after taking an "extraordinary hit"
"Assassin" spiders feared extinct after Kangaroo Island bushfires
Impacts on water
Australia's bushfires will create big problem for fresh drinking water
Impacts on tourism
Tourism loses $4.5b to bushfires as overseas visitors cancel
New Zealand's glaciers are turning red and it's because of Australia's bushfires.
New Zealand glaciers turn brown from Australian bushfires' smoke, ash and dust.
"Call for help": International response to Australian fires.
"Apocalyptic": New Zealand shrouded ins make from Australian bushfires
"Exhaustion point": Worst to come for NSW bushfires.
Defending the "un-defendable": How Batlow was saved.
Four Ways GIS Improves Rapid Response to Natural Disasters.
Firefighters battle to save NSW and Victorian coastal towns - in pictures
Balmoral RFS captain says Rural Fire Service "abandoned" village as bushfire bore down.
Indigenous groups, strategies and responses
Meet the all-female Indigenous fire crews protecting community, family and sacred land
Cultural Burning is about more than just hazard reduction.
Yuin Indigenous Australians unite in historic healing ceremony at Mount Guluga
Indigenous knowledge combines with Western science to look after country
Australian fires: Aboriginal planners say the bush "needs to burn"
First all-indigenous NSW firefighting crews protecting sacred sites, remote communities
Government responses to fires
Airlift from fire-ravaged Mallacoota under way.
Morrison's government on bushfires: from attacking climate "lunatics" to calling in the troops.
PM calls up reservists for firefighting effort.
Government rejected major air tanker expansion
Victoria calls in the Army to bury "tens of thousands" of dead livestock.
Major increase in Defence bushfire-fighting support.
"Ecological tragedy": $50m in federal cash to aid wildlife after fires
PM to announce bushfire support package for small business
Grants and low-interest loans announced for small businesses hit with major asset or revenue loss from bushfires
NGOs and community responses
Sikh group giving free hot meals to victims hailed as "legends".
Leading scientists condemn political inaction on climate change as Australia "literally burns".
Australia's fires have pumped out more emissions than 100 nations combined
Effectiveness of responses
NSW needs a royal commission into bushfires
Greg Mullins, former NSW Fire Commissioner talks tough on bushfire response.
Should fossil fuels pay for Australia's new bushfire reality? It is the industry most responsible.
Federal cabinet meets to discuss long-term response to bushfires.
Firies "ignored" on climate by government.
The government response to the bushfire crisis has been evasive, tepid, tone-deaf and above all too late.
The Morrison Government's failure to act on predicted disaster is damning
Bushfire experts say it's time to revisit Black Saturday recommendations and stop people building in highly dangerous areas.
Bushfire-destroyed homes should not be rebuilt in riskiest area, experts say
Mental health support boosted for bushfire victims
A bushfire started on December 31 at Charmhaven on the Central Coast and burned over several days. This is one of the smaller fires in The Australian Bushfires 2019-2020, but still burnt out 418ha of land. Local residents were issued with warnings and in some cases were evacuated. Two homes, located on Birdwood Drive and Arizona Drive were lost.
The photos below show the aftermath of the fire, taken on 18 January. There is some evidence of regrowth, but the fire-ground still smelt of smoke and was still hot underfoot.
Community groups have attempted to rescue injured wildlife and provide food for them. Below are photos of food left in a hanging container and food left on a tree stump.
Coordination of feeding and watering stations has been aided by the using of spatial technologies such as Google maps.
A Water Our Wildlife CCWSAR Map has been developed to help volunteers know where feeding and watering stations have been set up, so that people can visit them independently and re-stock them..
Victoria – Joint Task Force 646
Following a request from Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, on December 31, naval vessels, helicopter and fixed wing military aircraft were made ready for use in evacuations. This was decided in consultation with the Prime Minister and Defence Chief General Angus Campbell.
HMAS Choules transported approximately 1100 evacuees from Mallacoota to Western Port on January 4-5. The ship then returned to Mallacoota to deliver diesel fuel and a fuel management team to keep generators running. RAAF Black Hawk and Taipan helicopters transported firefighters to fire grounds, and helped evacuate vulnerable people. Three Spartan aircraft assisted with evacuations.
On January 5 and 6 ADF flew in emergency food, fuel, water and medical supplies to 18 cut-off communities. On January 7 they prepared a staging area for around 100 international fire fighters around Omeo.
On January 7, further evacuations from Mallacoota took place, and satellite phones and food, medical supplies, water and fuel were delivered in some isolated locations, including Bemm River and Genoa.
Reconnaissance flights were conducted over fire affected areas on January 8. A medical team was deployed to remote towns such as Combienbar and Gipsy Point.
5400 litres of diesel and 800 litres of unleaded petrol were flown in to Mallacoota.
Equipment and Engineering personnel were provided to assist state government in reopening roads, removing debris and clearing fire breaks and fire trails. On January 9, ADF undertook route clearance north of Bairnsdale and the Great Alpine Road was reopened. Hay bales and fodder were moved into key locations. Air Force air traffic controllers assisted to help manage the large volume of air traffic at the Bairnsdale Airport.
From January 10, ADF undertook continued work in support of relief centres at Omeo, Swifts Creek, Bairnsdale, Orbost and Mallacoota. ADF also supported evacuations from the Victorian Alpine region.
Undertake internet research:
- Make a list of the different issues affecting the people of Mallacoota prior to the ADF assisting them?
- Make a list of the different tasks undertaken by The Australian Defence Force to assist the people of Mallacoota?
- Why do you think that The Australian Defence Force had to be called in to assist the people of Mallacoota? Was this a good decision? What are the costs and benefits of using the ADF in this way?
- What challenges did the ADF face in assisting the people of Mallacoota?
- Outline the effectiveness of The Australian Defence Force in responding to the bushfire crisis affecting Mallacootta.
Embedded below are social media posts from The Guardian, The Australian Defence Force, the Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Airforce.
- What is the purpose of The Australian Defence Force, Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Airforce posting updates about their activities? What are the benefits of these posts?
- Consider the following statement about media: "Media and media messages can influence beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviours and the democratic process." What messages are conveyed in the posts below? What values are communicated? How might these posts influence democratic processes?
Embedded below is a series of tweets by Brendan, a local resident of Mallacoota. As the emergency unfolded, he published updates on the progress of the fires and the experiences of him and his family, and later on his community. The tweets included below are just from the first few days of the disaster. You can also listen to an interview with Brendan by clicking here.
Unlike a formal newspaper article or a television news story, this is a very personal account, describing one man's individual experiences.
- Create a list of the impacts of the fire on this particular person.
- Create a list of impacts on the community of Mallacoota.
- Use the hashtags #Mallacoota, #Australianbushfires and/or #bushfires to search Twitter. Explore the perspectives of other residents during the emergency. Add to your lists above, and write a short description of the accounts of these individuals.
- Consider the language and the descriptions included in the accounts you have read. How do these differ from the language and descriptions in more formal pieces of writing or news such as newspaper articles or news reports?
- As a geographer, what are the advantages of reading personal accounts of a natural disaster such as the Australian Bushfires? What are the disadvantages?
- What steps could you take to verify the accounts of individuals on twitter or other forms of social media?
A range of spatial technologies have been used during and after the Australian Bushfires 2019-2020. Emergency Services have used apps to communicate with the public about the location of fires and the risk to the public. Members of the public have been able to refer to geospatial information about air quality and weather conditions, and following the fires, environmental groups have been able to use geospatial tools to communicate and coordinate locations of feeding and watering stations for wildlife.
MyFireWatch is a collaboration between Edith Cowan University and Landgate and tracks bushfires.
Current Bushfires is the Queensland Government - Rural Fire Service website.
Air Quality Index Visual Map
The Air Quality Index Visual Map uses Air Quality Monitoring stations to collect data about air quality and represent it spatially. Air Quality is categorised as Good, Moderate, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, Hazardous.
Bureau of Meteorology
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology website provides up to date information about weather conditions that may impact on bushfires, such as temperature and wind.
Water Our Wildlife CCWSAR Map
The Central Coast Wildlife Search and Rescue created a google map to share information about feeding and watering stations to help surviving wildlife. This enables volunteers to independently visit sites for restocking.
Water Our Wildlife CCWSAR Map
back burning:starting small fires in front of the firefront to reduce the amount of fuel available and slow the progress of a fire.
bushfire: fire burning out of control in the open; also called a wildfire
climate change: a current warming trend of the Earth’s atmosphere.
drought: a period of below average precipitation
El Niño event: the reversal (every few years) of the more usual direction of winds and surface currents across the Pacific Ocean. This change causes drought in Australia
and heavy rain in South America. (Normally Australia has the rain and South America has the dry conditions.)
evacuee: someone who is forced out of the location that they normally live in.
fire front: the edge of the fire that spreads at the fastest rate
firebrand: aerial burning fuel that blows ahead of the fire front
firestorm: an intense fire, which may generate strong convection currents and violent winds that cause long range spotting and flame spirals
fuel: any material that burns
hazard reduction burn: a way of preparing for bushfires by starting a controlled fire in a cool period before fire season. This reduced the fuel in the area.
heatwave: a short period (usually a few days) of well above average temperatures
La Niña event: a period of well above average rainfall in eastern Australia, which often brings floods
Meteorology: the study of processes and phenomena of the atmosphere, including climate and weather.
natural disaster: occurs as a result of a hazardous natural event that dramatically affects a community
natural hazard: a natural event or object that is a potential source of harm to a community
NGO: non-government organisation. A group of people in a community who all work towards a common purpose.
sclerophyll: plants found in low rainfall areas; their leathery leaves help reduce water loss
stubble: the stumps or stalks left in the ground when a crop, such as wheat, is harvested
subsidy: direct financial aid given by a government to an individual or group to reduce the price of a good or service.
Each student receives a copy of the glossary terms and a single glossary bingo card (each card contains random 9lossary terms). As a class, read through the glossary terms. Students are then given 5 minutes to revise the terms and definitions. The teacher reads out definitions in a random order. When the student hears a definition of a word on their bingo card they highlight it. When students have a row of three terms they call out “Bingo”. An example of a bingo card can be seen below, but the downloadable file below contains multiple variations.
Bushfire spelling list
Some generic bushfire lesson plans and sequences:
GTA NSW - Geography Alive - Bushfire Hazards in Australia
Bushfire lesson plan - Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience
Bushfire Education - Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Preparing for an emergency - NSW Rural Fire Service
Bushfires and grassfires - CFA, Victoria
Learning about Bushfires - Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the new Geoactive book series.
Student resource sites: