Tourists are encouraged to start returning to the villages and towns within the Southern Highlands area spreading from Warragamba Dam and Picton through to Wingello and includes the bigger towns of Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale as weather conditions improve.
The Green Wattle Creek fire has been burning in the Wollondilly area since the 26th November 2019, reaching nearly 278,000 hectares in size. As this fire grew it impacted into the Wingecarribee, Upper Lachlan and Operon areas.
The Morton fire which started on the 4th January 2020 has been burning in the Morton National Park, reaching over 237,000 hectares in size.
Whilst both fires are still being controlled they do not present any danger at this time to the main tourist areas of the Southern Highlands.
Over the past three days there has been widespread rain across the area with varying amounts falling across the two fire grounds, however it has been insufficient to completely douse the small pockets of active fire.
Whilst this cooler period of weather continues ground crews are engaged in ground truthing the location of a number of hot spots and mopping up where they can.
Local Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Emergency Operations Controllers and the RFS Incident Controller would like to encourage visitors to return to the area and help the communities get back on their feet.
Incident Controller, Superintendent Simon Davis said “Firefighters and support agencies will continue work to contain and recover from the fires over coming weeks and months. There are many areas that are now safe for people to visit. We encourage visitors to make contact with their accommodation providers to confirm they are open for business. While enjoying your time in the Southern Highlands area we ask that you stay up to date using Fires Near Me and Live Traffic applications”.
NSW Police reminded visitors to “Observe road closures and respect the privacy of residents who have lost homes by avoiding fire effected areas. There are numerous Highlands villages ready and waiting to welcome visitors”.
Local holiday parks and accommodation providers are asked to review their systems of monitoring weather conditions and changes in the fire situation so that they can ensure their guests are well informed and stay safe whilst visiting the area.
Visitors should note that all National Parks will remain closed until the 1st of February 2020.