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Fire

The driest continent on Earth is always at risk from bushfires. In February 2009 wildfires in Victoria destroyed over a million acres of bushland and killed 210 people in the country’s worst bushfire disaster. It was caused by a combination of high winds, record temperatures and over a month without rain. But even in wet years, there’s a constant red alert during summer months. Always use an established fireplace where available, or dig a shallow pit and ring it with stones. Keep fires small and make absolutely sure embers are smothered before going to sleep or moving on. Nor should you leave a burning fire unattended nor discard burning cigarette butts from cars. Periodic total fire bans – announced in the local media – prohibit any fire in the open, including wood, gas or electric barbecues, with heavy fines for offenders.

Check on the local fire danger before you go bushwalking – some walking trails are closed in risky periods (summer – Dec, Jan & Feb – in the south; the end of the dry season – Sept/Oct – in the north). If driving, carry blankets and a full water container, listen to the radio and watch out for roadside fire-danger indicators.

Water

Carry plenty and do not contaminate local water resources: soaps and detergents can render water undrinkable and kill livestock and wild animals. Avoid washing in standing water, especially tanks and small lakes or reservoirs.

Waste

Take only photographs, leave only footprints. That means carry out all rubbish – never burn or bury it – and urinate and bury excrement at least 50m from a campsite or water source.

Hypothermia

In Tasmania, where the weather is notoriously changeable, even in summer, prepare as you would for a walk in the highlands of Scotland.

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