Lance Goodall 22 Dec 2019
The country’s wildfires were ‘God’s judgment’ for legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion
“They were appalling comments,” Scott Morrison told 7News Australia.
“He is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes, but that doesn’t mean he cannot have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burned down and I’m sure to many Christians around Australia for whom that is not their view at all.”
Folau is suing Rugby Australia for his dismissal earlier in the year, seeking 10 million Australian dollars in compensation for what he believes was wrongful discrimination over his religious beliefs, according to the Evening Standard.
Israel Folau says his controversial comments that the bushfire crisis was a sign of “God’s judgment” in response to the legalisation of same-sex marriage were not meant to offend but that it was a “timely reminder of God’s word”.
The former Wallabies fullback, who is seeking $14 million compensation after being sacked by Rugby Australia earlier this year for posting a photo to Instagram that said homosexuals were destined for hell, attempted to clarify his recent comments via a video released on his website on Saturday morning.
Earlier this month, Folau suggested the bushfires that have ripped through the country were a “little taste of God’s judgment”.
“Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time,” Folau told members of his church. “You think it’s a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent.”
After widespread criticism, even from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and broadcaster Alan Jones, Folau has addressed the controversy.
What I was referring to in terms of the natural disasters that are happening now wasn’t a direct, I guess, message to the people that are affected.
Overlay footage poses the question: “Are natural disasters sent by God?” before Folau explains himself.
“What I was referring to in terms of the natural disasters that are happening now wasn’t a direct, I guess, message to the people that are affected,” Folau said.
“In actual fact, it was just a timely reminder of God’s word and trying to point people onto the path of righteousness.”
Folau then acknowledged the devastating effects of the fires.
“In saying that, my thoughts and prayers do go out to the people affected,” Folau said. “It’s horrible to see and you never want anyone to go through that sort of stuff but, as a Christian, you are always praying for people.
“You see the droughts today, you pray for rain and things to be restored, and that’s ultimately as Christians what we’re driven by and what we’re bound by is God’s love.”
“Thus they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they followed after various gods of the peoples around them. They bowed down to them and provoked the LORD to anger, 13 for they forsook Him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of those who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.… ”
—Judge 2:12 -14 Berean
Judgement need not be seen in negative terms; it is an opportunity for reconciliation.
While a comprehensive study of “judgement” in the New Testament is impossible here, John’s Gospel offers an illuminating approach to the topic. In John 3, the Evangelist records the words of Jesus, that “this is the judgement (krísis), that the light has come into the world”, and our deeds will determine whether we love the light or darkness since we do not want our evil deeds to be exposed (John 3:19–20).
In other words, krísis (“judgement”) for John is not punishment but an opportunity; it is a point of decision.
Will we come to the light, or will we hide away in the darkness, forbidding our deeds from being exposed by the light? Will we repent, or slink back into our evil until it catches up with us?
In short,judgement need not be seen in negative terms; it is an opportunity for reconciliation.
Extreme Bush Fires
Australia is grappling with massive bushfires fuelled by record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought.
Fires in New South Wales (NSW) have burned at least 2.7m hectares (7.4m acres) this season, destroying more than 700 houses. Eight people – including two volunteer firefighters whose vehicle was hit by a tree – have died.
What’s the situation in New South Wales?
Hot, dry weather combined with prolonged drought and strong winds have created perfect conditions for fire to spread rapidly.
Nearly 100 fires are burning across the state, with many uncontained and continuing to threaten lives.
The fires have been exacerbated by 40C temperatures and strong winds in recent days, creating difficult conditions for the 2,500 firefighters deployed in the field. Large fires are burning in the north region between Port Macquarie and Byron Bay.
Further south there are fears that the vast Gosper’s Mountain fire, which originated in the Wollemi National Park, may merge with the Green Wattle Creek blaze in the lower Blue Mountains.
Smoke from these fires has periodically blown south-eastwards to reach Sydney, causing severe air pollution in Australia’s largest city.
To put the fire damage in New South Wales in perspective, 1.8 million hectares burned in the 2018 California wildfires and some 900,000 hectares were lost in the 2019 Amazon fires.
Flames up to 70m (230ft) in height have been reported.
So are bushfires getting worse?
Many Australians are asking that very question and whether these fires are linked to climate change – but the science is complicated.
Scientists have long warned that a hotter, drier climate will contribute to fires becoming more frequent and more intense.
Australia’s deadliest bushfire disaster was “Black Saturday” in February 2009, when some 180 people died in Victoria.
Data shows that Australia has warmed overall by slightly more than 1C since 1910, with most of the heating occurring since 1950, the Bureau of Meteorology says.
Hottest day on record
Australia broke its all-time temperature record twice this week. Tuesday’s average maximum of 40.9C was broken a day later by Wednesday’s 41.9C, both beating a 2013 record of 40.3C.
The main climate driver behind the heat has been a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) – an event where sea surface temperatures are warmer in the western half of the ocean, cooler in the east.
The difference between the two temperatures is currently the strongest in 60 years.
Climate Change or God’s Judgement?
NSW bushfires destroy dozens of homes, leave a man missing and create thunderstorm on devastating day
Dozens of buildings have been destroyed, a man is missing and several firefighters have been injured on a “volatile” day of disastrous bushfires in New South Wales.
- Five homes have been destroyed in the Lithgow area, and one person is unaccounted for
- Police are advising travellers to delay their plans, amid major road closures
- Temperatures are climbing into the 40s across the state
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said 20 buildings, including homes and businesses, have been affected along the Bells Line of Road, stretching from Lithgow to Bilpin.
Around a dozen structures have been damaged or destroyed in the Balmoral area to Sydney’s south-west, along with three properties in the Currowan fire on the South Coast.
RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said a man who the RFS made contact with earlier in the day was missing in the Dargan area near Lithgow.
The man had decided to stay and fight the Gospers Mountain blaze, which has been described as a “mega fire” having consumed around 470,000 hectares of land in the two months it has burned continuously.
Late on Saturday night, residents of Bowen Mountain and Kurrajong Heights were allowed to return to inspect their properties.
Authorities have confirmed four firefighters have been injured fighting out-of-control blazes in the state, with one hit by a car on the Bells Line of Road. Paramedics treated the firefighter, who was not seriously injured.
Nearby fires at Kerry Ridge and Palmers Oaky on the Central Coast were burning at emergency level late on Saturday night.
A fire-generated thunderstorm formed over two fires burning at emergency level on the South Coast as a southerly change exacerbated bushfires on a scorching day.
The RFS warned residents the thunderstorm was “a very dangerous situation”, and could also occur over the Gospers Mountain mega fire as conditions deteriorate.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said the southerly change has not provided relief despite the lower temperatures that it brought much of the state’s heatwave.
“We are mindful that we still have a number of hours to go with the volatility of behaviour while it is under the influence of the blustery southerly change, particularly on fire grounds north of Sydney,” he said.
“What we need to keep in mind is that while the temperatures will drop and the humidity will rise, the vegetation, the landscape, it is so dry that we are still seeing pretty significant fire behaviour, and that is likely to continue through the evening.”
As evidence of this, the Owendale and Kerry Ridge blazes were upgraded to emergency level well after the sun had set.
Mr Fitzsimmons said 3,000 firefighters and emergency services personnel battled the fires on Saturday.
Lithgow resident Simon Oken feared for his father’s life when flames surrounded Boo’s home on the outskirts of the area.
Mr Oken said what he thought was his final goodbye on the phone, but his father escaped by driving through a “wall of flames”.
When the blaze had passed they found two sheds were destroyed, but Boo’s house remained intact.
People planning to head on holidays were advised to “put your travel off” as the heatwave brought catastrophic fire danger to New South Wales.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys urged people not to be “selfish and inconsiderate” by planning to travel through fire danger zones.
“Wait another day and you will find your travel will be much safer for your family and for emergency services,” Mr Worboys said.
Several major roads and highways were closed but major highways slowly opened back up to traffic.
The Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba was reopened to traffic in the afternoon, while the Hume Highway and Princes Highway were reopened in the evening.
Queensland Changes it Abortion Laws
The effort prevailed after activists had tried and failed for decades to gain the traction needed to overturn the law in a state known for entrenched conservatism.
This time, the legislation was able to move forward after the leader of the opposition party allowed its members to vote their conscience, rather than follow party guidance. Several of its members voted in favor of the legislation.
It also comes at a time when the Queensland Parliament has achieved a notable level of representation for women: The premier, the head of the government, is a woman, the first in Australia to be elected to two terms. Her deputy is a woman, and so is half of her cabinet. And, in another first, the opposition is also led by a woman.
“History has been made,” Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland’s premier, said in a post on Twitter after the vote. “Women will no longer have the fear of committing a crime when making the deeply personal decisions over their own bodies.”
Opponents of the legislation called the development devastating and said they were ready to campaign against members of Parliament who voted for it. “The fight will continue,” one anti-abortion group, Cherish Life, told its supporters after the vote. “The unborn need us more than ever.”
The new law will allow for a pregnancy to be terminated up to 22 weeks (without questions being asked), or beyond that with the approval of two doctors. The legislation also creates 150-meter zones around clinics where activists are forbidden from protesting and requires doctors who object to performing abortions to refer patients elsewhere.
It takes the place of a criminal code from 1899 that was based on a British law that was itself overturned some 50 years ago. Though abortion was rarely prosecuted in Queensland, a 19-year-old woman faced criminal charges in 2009 after officials said she used medication smuggled from Ukraine to induce a miscarriage.
The Victorian Experience
Experts told Fact Check it was fair to compare the proposed legislation in Queensland to current abortion laws in Victoria, which have been in place since 2008.
A 2017 study — Intended and unintended consequences of abortion law reform: perspectives of abortion experts in Victoria, Australia — found that while experts agreed law reform had been positive, “they did not think it had significantly changed practice.”
In fact, experts perceived that access to surgical and post 20-week abortion had contracted since the law’s reform, though this may have been coincidental.
Ms Hamblin added that despite the law changes, it remained “extremely difficult” to get an abortion after 24 weeks.
“None of the private clinics will perform abortions this late in the pregnancy, so a woman would have to find a large public hospital willing to perform the procedure. This is not easy,” Ms Hamblin said.
Principal researcher: Ellen McCutchan
- Sydney Morning Herald, Rally in Brisbane against abortion changes, 1 September, 2018
- Courier Mail, Senator Matt Canavan says abortion laws go too far, 1 September, 2018
- Marie Stopes Australia, Understanding your options: surgical abortion vs medical abortion, 27 October, 2016
- Tom Gotsis and Laura Ismay, Abortion law: A national perspective, NSW Parliamentary Research Service, May 2017
- Queensland Law Reform Commission, Review of termination of pregnancy laws, June, 2018
- Queensland Government, Criminal Code Act 1899, Sections 224, 225, 226, 282, 16 March, 2018
- Queensland Government, Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018, August, 2018
- The Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, Intended and unintended consequences of abortion law reform: perspectives of abortion experts in Victoria, Australia, January, 2017
Australia abortion laws: Terminations now legal in New South Wales
- 26 September 2019
Abortion has been decriminalised across Australia after the last remaining state where it was illegal, New South Wales (NSW), voted to reform its laws.
Do we think there is no correlation between these law changes and bushfires that are devastating communities along the Eastern Coasts?
The bill, passed on Thursday, overturns a 119-year-old law which had been criticised by opponents as archaic.
The legislation had generated weeks of heated debate and deeply divided the state’s conservative government.
Previously, abortions were possible in NSW only if a doctor deemed there was “serious risk” to a woman’s health.
The legislation was passed 26-14 in the state’s upper house after discussions about more than 100 possible amendments. It has already been approved by the upper house.
The law makes it legal for terminations to be conducted up to 22 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy – or later if two doctors agree.
The reform had been strongly opposed by some activists and MPs who raised objections due to their personal beliefs, as well as concerns about late-term abortions.
But last-minute amendments ultimately persuaded some conservative MPs, and the bill drew support from other parties.
“The current law has meant women and doctors have a threat of 10 years in jail for making this decision and that’s not okay,” said Labor MP Penny Sharpe, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
“This is a massive step forward for women in this state.”
Bushfire Season Starts Early
An RFS spokesman said it’s unusual for the South Coast to start the season so early – this is the first in about eight years. But the dry conditions and heavy fuel load warranted the earlier start.
Without reasonable rain most of the rest of the state including the Sydney region will most likely have the start of their fire seasons brought forward to September 1, he said.
“Conditions across the state are drier and warmer than average, with more than 98 per cent of NSW drought-affected,” NSW RFS acting Commissioner Rob Rogers said in a statement.
“Last season we saw more fires in July and August than the whole of summer combined.”
The shift follows a near-record warm July for much of the state. Sydney’s average maximum temperature was 19.7 degrees – more than 3 degrees above the long-term average, 16.4, and scraping in just under last year’s record July average of 19.9.
It was also an exceptionally dry July, with the vast majority of NSW experiencing below average rainfall. Sydney’s total July rainfall was just 43.4mm, well under half the long-term average rainfall total of 95.7mm.
Statewide, rainfall was just a third of the normal level for July, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
During the bushfire danger period, landowners and managers are reminded they need a permit before lighting any fires on their properties.
Mr Rogers said the period also meant it was time for residents and managers to prepare for the threat of bushfires.
“Recent fires on the Mid Coast and in the Hunter region have shown that bushfires can strike at any time and it is vitally important to be prepared,” he said.
“This means doing simple things like cleaning your gutters, removing combustibles from your yard, ensuring hoses can reach all corners of your property and completing or updating your bushfire survival plan, so you and your family know what you will do in the event of a bushfire.”
The Uniting Church has broken ranks with other religious institutions to throw its support behind decriminalising abortion in New South Wales.
NSW is the only Australian state or territory that has neglected to modernise abortion laws.
Last week a private member’s bill co-sponsored by 15 MPs from across the political divide was introduced to state parliament. It was expected to be debated as soon as Tuesday when parliament sits.
It would remove abortion from the state’s criminal code and create a standalone healthcare act to regulate the procedure.
“Respect for the sacredness of life means advocating for the needs of women as well as every unborn child,” Hansford said.
“Whilst we encourage our ministers to remind people of the sacredness of life, the church’s role should be to offer care and support leading up to and following a decision, not stand in judgment.”
“Most women who have abortions do so only after a great deal of searching and anguish,” he said.
It’s important not to ignore the many emotional, physical, financial and social issues that often create a situation where a woman is forced to consider an abortion, Hansford said.
Hansford’s stand is at odds with that of other churches.
On Tuesday the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, revealed he had written to the premier, together with the heads of the Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches, calling on her to delay the bill.
“It is the dream bill of the abortion industry, which they have already pressed upon several other states; but it will leave unborn children and unsupported pregnant women even more at risk,” he said.
Others like the Anglican archbishop Glenn Davies insisted the status quo should remain.
“Abortion is available in NSW and the criminal code provisions have not prevented women from seeking abortions,” he said.
“Rather, the law strengthens the protection of women from pressure, medical malpractice and safeguards the consciences of doctors. In the rare cases that criminal sanctions have been applied, it was clear the circumstances warranted prosecution.”
Last year Queensland’s parliament voted to legalise abortion and erase a 119-year-old “morality” section of the state’s criminal code.
The NSW private member’s bill is based on laws in Queensland and Victoria and has the backing of the Australian Medical Association and the Pro-Choice Alliance.
The bill would allow for terminations up to 22 weeks – and later if two doctors believe they should be performed given the medical, physical, social and psychological circumstances.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian backs the bill.
“What is important to me is for every colleague to have the opportunity … to express their views frankly and honestly,” Berejiklian said.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, at one stage temporarily the Sydney Mardi Gras, or locally Mardi Gras, is an annual LGBT pride parade and festival in Sydney, Australia, attended by hundreds of thousands of people from around Australia and overseas.
It is one of the largest such festivals in the world, and the largest Pride event in Oceania.[a] It includes a variety of events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade and Party, Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, the academic discussion panel Queer Thinking, Mardi Gras Film Festival, as well as Fair Day, which attracts 70,000 people to Victoria Park, Sydney.
The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s biggest tourist drawcards, with the parade and dance party attracting many international and domestic tourists. It is New South Wales’ second-largest annual event in terms of economic impact, generating an annual income of about A$30 million for the state.
The event grew from gay rights parades held annually since 1978, when numerous participants had been arrested by New South Wales Police. The Mardi Gras Parade maintains a political flavour, with many marching groups and floats promoting LGBTQI rights issues or themes. Reflecting changes since the first Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, participants in the Mardi Gras Parade now include groups of uniformed Australian Defence Force personnel, police officers from New South Wales State Police, as well as interstate and federal police officers, firefighters and other emergency services personnel from the Australian LGBTQI communities. Marriage equality was a dominant theme in the 2011 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade with at least 15 floats lobbying for same-sex marriage.
InterPride, at their October 2019 Annual General Meeting of three hundred delegate organizations, held in Athens, Greecechose Sydney, Australia to host WorldPride 2023 – the first time WorldPride will be held in the Southern Hemisphere or Asia Pacific region.
More than 3,000 same-sex couples married in Australia between December and 30 June, new statistics show.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said in a data release on Tuesday that 3,149 same-sex weddings took place between 9 December, when amendments to the Marriage Act came into effect, and the end of the 2017-18 financial year.
The state with the greatest share of weddings was New South Wales (34.6%), followed by Victoria (26.2%) and Queensland (18.9%). Of the 67 weddings in Tasmania, 67% were between women.
“The most popular time for same-sex couples to get married was March, accounting for 22.7% (714) of marriages over the six-month period,” said James Eynstone-Hinkins, from the ABS’s health and vitals statistics section.
Of those 3,000 weddings, 56.3% were between women, while the median age for women to marry was 39, compared with 48.5 for men. In 2017, the median age across heterosexual marriages was 32 for men and 30 for women.
The law change was greeted with particular enthusiasm among older couples, the data suggests. There were 1,057 people above the age of 60 who registered a same-sex marriage, including 86 men and 33 women older than 75.
The ABS said 99% of same-sex marriages had been performed by civil celebrants.
Rodney Croome, a veteran campaigner and Just Equal spokesman, said the figures were a reminder that “the marriage equality campaign was right when it said the sky would not fall in”.
“The relatively high median age of marrying same-sex partners suggests the couples who are marrying have been together a long time and are now finally able to have their love and commitment legally recognised,” he said.
“As Australia debates transgender equality, discrimination in religious schools and other LGBTI issues, we must keep in mind that those who catastrophised LGBTI equality during the marriage debate were jumping at shadows, and they continue to jump at shadows today.”
In December, the parliament passed a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry following a national postal survey in which 61.6% voted in favour of the change.
Now, when filing a notice of intended marriage form, parties can decide between three options for “sex”: “male”, “female” and “X” (any person who does not choose to identify as either male or female).
Most couples were required to wait a month unless they had sought a special exemption, meaning 9 January was the first day most couples could marry.
Census data from 2016 showed there were 46,800 same-sex couples living together in Australia, a figure which accounts for 0.9% of all couples.
Statistics released on Tuesday showed that overall there had been 112,954 marriages registered in 2017, a 4.7% decrease compared with the previous year. There were 49,032 divorces granted in the same period, an increase of 5%.
The median duration from marriage to divorce was 12 years. The highest divorce rate was in Queensland.
Home of Mardi Gras leads the way with the most weddings
The ABC approached the Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages in every state and territory to see how many same-sex weddings have been held since same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia on December 9 last year.
Most registry offices could provide statistics up to the end of November, therefore the most up-to-date and accurate figure available was 5,985 registered marriages across Australia.
New South Wales — home of the world-famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras — has seen the most same-sex weddings with 2,004 registered as of November 15.
Victoria (1,552), Queensland (1,241), Western Australia (519) and South Australia (372) rounded out the top five.
Tasmania had 128 same-sex weddings for 39 male couples and 89 female couples.
In the Australian Capital Territory, where Chief Minister Andrew Barr is the only openly gay leader of any state or territory, there were 124 same-sex marriages registered up to November 30.
The Northern Territory with its smaller population had 45 same-sex weddings for 26 female couples and 19 male couples.
Australians have ’embraced’ marriage equality
Australian Marriage Equality spokeswoman Shirleene Robinson said the country had embraced the change in the past year.
“I think that’s the most beautiful thing to see the weddings coming out of this and loving couples being able to make that statement in front of their loved ones,” she said.
“At the end of the day this was about love and equality, and when people have those wedding ceremonies it’s just wonderful, there are so many of them and that’s what it’s all about, reinforcing that message of love, commitment and equality.”
Inside the eye of ‘The Monster’: Terrifying new images capture the apocalyptic scenes faced by firefighters as they try to tame a blaze in the Blue Mountains
- Pictures show the carnage on Saturday night as a mega-blaze ripped through houses and businesses
- The Gospers Mountain fire is continuing to tear through Bilpin, northwest of Sydney, and is not going to ease
- RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said at least 20 properties were impacted in the region on Saturday
- NSW Premier warned residents not to travel over Christmas due to ‘unpredictable conditions’ and fear for life
Exhausted firefighters worked through the night to save homes and lives as an out-of-control bushfire dubbed ‘The Monster’ tore through properties and land in New South Wales.
Devastating new photographs show the carnage on Saturday night as intense weather conditions propelled a mega-blaze covering 460,000 hectares from Gospers Mountain through to the Blue Mountains.
An elderly man whose home was consumed by flames remains missing feared dead, and dozens of properties have been damaged or destroyed by bushfires which raged during heatwave conditions in the state on Saturday.
Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons described the day as ‘awful’ for firefighters, with up to 20 homes lost to the immense Gospers Mountain fire northwest of Sydney alone.
A photographer who captured the dramatic moment a fruit shop went up in flames in Bilpin told Daily Mail Australia it was the worst bushfire he’d experienced in almost a decade of shooting emergency services in action.
‘These fires are getting worse. I’ve been shooting for about 10 years and haven’t seen anything like that fire front before.’
Devastating new photographs show Saturday night’s carnage as a mega-blaze covering 460,000 hectares spread from Gospers Mountain through to the Blue Mountains, destroying an estimated 20 homes
Pictures show the devastating conditions firefighters were forced to work in, as a blanket of orange smoke settled on the Blue Mountains and embers flew in every direction
The firefighters worked together to pump a hose through a homeowner’s backyard as the vicious fire approached
He arrived on the scene at 1767 Bells Line of Road at about 3.30pm on Saturday and stayed until 10.30pm, watching firefighters as they risked their lives to put out the blazes while being constantly bombarded with calls about other fires that needed their attention.
‘There wasn’t really any time to talk. Those firies were just flat out. They were no sooner putting out one fire before they were called to another somewhere else.
‘It was just non-stop.’
The iconic Tutti Fruitti Fruit Shop on Bells Line of Road went up in flames before his very eyes and could not be saved, he said.
‘It was just a red fireball… a huge ball of flame.’
The owners weren’t home at the time and are believed to have evacuated.
More than 20 homes are feared lost in the Blue Mountains after the blaze tore through on Saturday night, fuelled by intense weather conditions. Pictured: Tutti Fruitti Fruit Shop
Firefighters from across the state offered their services in the Blue Mountains mega-blaze on Saturday
The mega-blaze ripped through Bilpin and the Blue Mountains on Saturday night with intense heat and speed
Fire fighters worked to try to contain a blaze which tore through a fruit shop and nearby homes
Another home he was photographing was saved by the efforts of Killara RFS and the property owner, Mark Jol.
Mr Jol and his son Andrew chose not to evacuate because they knew their property was in the direct line of fire and hoped they could save their property.
Both men are volunteer firefighters at Bilpin RFS and were well prepared to battle the blaze.
They used 40,000 litres of water to save their property alone – offering a stark reminder about just how much water firefighters need to fight the blazes.
‘All of that water came from their own tanks,’ the photographer said. ‘They were well prepared, but all that water was used just on the initial fire front which passed through.
‘They had sprinklers fitted and switched on around the house, in the car port… It really was a well prepared home, it was covered in corrugated iron and surrounded by well cleared out space and it survived.’
Mr Jol believes another dwelling further down on his land wouldn’t have survived. Conditions were too extreme for him to go properly check it out.
The photographer saw multiple properties burned out during the fast-moving blaze.
Harrowing footage taken from the frontline of the mega-fire known as ‘The Monster’ by locals shows the reality of the speed of the fires
More properties are under threat in Bilpin and Bells Line of Road into the night while firefighters were seen battling the flames
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons on Saturday night said the blaze(pictured in Bilpin) is still ‘extremely active and busy’ and continues to spread at a rapid rate
‘All of those pictures were taken within a 10kilometer radius through Bells Line of Road. That’s it,’ he said.
He said they were aware the fire front would approach suddenly, but nobody could be entirely prepared for how fast it moved once it hit the valley.
‘There are pictures of it above the tree line in the distance, but within about 15 minutes it had travelled through the ridge line and down the valley.
‘Once it hit that valley floor, I’d say it was impacting the house within minutes, it moved that quickly.’
The only reason he didn’t feel unsafe, he said, was because the home was that well prepared.
At least two more properties were razed near Batemans Bay on the south coast, and others at Balmoral southwest of Sydney.
As conditions worsened, Prime Minister Scott Morrison covertly arrived in back Sydney after holidaying in Hawaii with his family.
The Australian public largely criticised the PM for quietly leaving the country during the worst bushfires the country has seen.
During a press conference at the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters in Sydney on Sunday, Mr Morrison said he made the decision to leave based on fatherly instinct and believed he’d left Australia in capable hands during his week-long absence.
Protesters hold up banners during a protest at Kirribilli House on December 19, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Protestors organised the rally outside Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Sydney residence over his absence during the ongoing bushfire emergencies across Australia
‘I get it that people would have been upset to know that I was holidaying with my family while their families were under great stress,’ he said.
Mr Morrison admitted he had caused ‘great anxiety’ by leaving Australia for his family holiday during one of the worst bushfire crises’ in history.
‘I know that that has caused some great anxiety in Australia. Jenny and I acknowledge that,’ he said.
‘If you had your time over again and you had the benefit of hindsight, then we would have made different decisions.
‘I’m sure Australians are fair minded and understand that when you make a promise to your kids, you try to keep it – but as prime minister, you have other responsibilities.
‘I accept that. I accept the criticism.’
Mr Morrison said the trip to Hawaii was a surprise for his daughters, Abby and Lily, after a long year.
He said conditions had intensified significantly since he made the decision to leave.
Harrowing footage shows just how difficult of a time firefighters are having trying to contain the blazes.
The Gospers Mountain mega blaze is continuing to tear through Bilpin (pictured), northwest of Sydney, with firefighters expected to work tirelessly through the night as conditions are not expected to ease
Tutti Frutti Fruit Shop (pictured) on Bells Lin elf Road has been destroyed, along with the adjoining house and the neighbouring house
Thousands of volunteers continue to battle blazes on Sunday as Mr Morrison meets with fire chiefs in Sydney after covertly landing from his Hawaiian holiday on Saturday night.
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said much of the fire ground, including Bilpin, still needed to be on high alert into Sunday as a southerly change blew through the region north-west of Sydney.
‘Temperatures will drop but the humidity will rise. The vegetation, the landscape is so dry we are still seeing pretty significant fire behaviour and that is going to continue,’ he said.
In a stark warning that the crisis could last months, he added: ‘We will not get on top of these fires until we get some decent rain’.
Southerly winds moving upstate on Saturday evening fanned flames in new directions and caused erratic fire behaviour, before creating cooler conditions for the 3000 firefighting and emergency personnel in the field.
A fire-generated thunderstorm also formed over fires in the Shoalhaven.
Exhausted fire fighters worked through the night to keep the blazes from destroying any more homes
As a wall of fire swept through the charred bush in the Blue Mountains, it climbed high up into the tree tops
The sky near Bilpin and Kurrajong looked apocolyptic as grey embers fell from the orange, burned out sky on Saturday evening
With forecasts predicting close to a week of advantageous conditions across NSW, Mr Fitzsimmons said his crews would do their best to get on top of the fires before tougher conditions return later in the week or next weekend.
‘Our big focus is on trying to consolidate and establish containment lines across as many fire grounds as we can. We have significant fire spread south of the Bells Line of Road and through the valley system such as the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains,’ Mr Fitzsimmons told reporters.
‘So we will be looking at what are the options, what are the fall-back lines and at what point do we start implementing very significant strategies to secure protection for an impending threat to the Blue Mountains, particularly the communities along the Great Western Highway.’
Mr Fitzsimmons said an elderly Dargan man who refused to leave, choosing to stay and defend his residence east of Lithgow, remained unaccounted for on Saturday evening. His property was later seen in flames.
NSW Ambulance chief executive Dominic Morgan said a number of firefighters suffered heat exhaustion on Saturday while battling the 112 fires, which were having a ‘big impact’ on demand for emergency services.
Horses are seen in a paddock as the Gospers Mountain Fire impacts Bilpin, northwest of Sydney, on Saturday
Chilling footage was captured from the frontline of the fires, shows just how rapidly the fire has been moving towards properties
Fire crews and police spent Saturday door-knocking and warning residents of the imminent danger and urging them to leave
Commissioner Fitzsimmons said areas such as Bilpin (pictured) still needed to be on high alert into Sunday as a southerly change blew through the region north-west of Sydney
Mr Fitzsimmons added one firefighter at Lithgow had been treated for smoke inhalation and another at Gospers Mountain was struck by a car.
Towns around Lithgow were impacted by an ember attack in the afternoon, either damaging or completely destroying dozens of properties.
Desperate police scrambled to get people out of their homes and to safety as the huge mega blaze threatened 20,000 lives.
A member of the Melton fire crew was photographed while he helped fight fires heading from Bilpin on Saturday night
A NSW Rural Fire Service member helping to put out a blaze heading toward homes in Kurrajong from Bilpin
The Gospers Mountain mega blaze is moving rapidly at Bells Line of Road, northwest of Sydney, with the Rural Fire Service predicting a grim night on Saturday
The Gospers Mountain Fire is seen impacting a property in Bilpin, northwest of Sydney, as the blaze remains out-of-control on Saturday
NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin, northwest of Sydney on Saturda
Police were seen running up to houses and pulling people out as the flames inched closer to properties in Lithgow
A southerly wind of up to 90km/h began rolling through the southern coast of NSW on Saturday afternoon, hitting Sydney at 5pm and causing the fires to pick up speed.
While the cool change could be seen as a nice reprieve, Commissioner Fitzsimmons said as long as the state is in drought, the fires will continue to wreak havoc.
What is a fire-generated thunderstorm?
A fire-generated thunderstorm occurs when clouds form from the intense heat of a fire.
The rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, winds and sometimes rain.
But the rain does not fall directly over the fire, with the lightning causing further damage elsewhere as it can set off more fires.
‘We will not get on top of these fires until we get some decent rain, we have said that for weeks and months,’ he said.
The Currowan and Tianjara fires in the Shoalhaven were so powerful they caused fire-generated thunderstorms which happen when rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, high winds and sometimes rain – but not directly over the blazes.
‘This is a very dangerous situation. Monitor the conditions around you and take appropriate action,’ RFS wrote on Twitter.
One of the fire-caused thunderstorms brought a splash of rain to Bargo, south of Sydney and prompted firefighters to dance and cheer with joy as they felt the first drops of water fall from the sky.
NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said about 8.30pm there were still 120 fires burning across the State.
A chilling satellite image of New South Wales shows fires south of Sydney in Shoalhaven
The Currowan and Tianjara fires in the Shoalhaven were so powerful that they caused fire-generated thunderstorms which happen when rising, turbulent air draws in cooler air and causes lightning, high winds and sometimes rain – but not directly over the blazes
Firefighters stare down a raging bushfire at Bilpin in NSW’s Blue Mountains (pictured), next to a major road and dangerously close to homes
The Bilpin fire, on the outskirts of Sydney, is threatening homes and communities (pictured) as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky raise eyebrows with Byron Bay locals as ‘a fleet of water trucks’ for their ‘$1million garden’ arrive at their new mega-mansion amid bushfire and drought crisis
Chris Hemsworth and his wife Elsa Pataky have raised eyebrows after ‘a fleet of water trucks’ arrived at their $20 million mega-mansion.
The trucks have reportedly been arriving to tend to a garden worth $1million at their new home in Broken Head near Byron Bay – as Australia battles through intense drought and harsh water restrictions in much of New South Wales.
‘I wish I had millions of dollars to buy that amount of water, all the demand (from the bushfire crisis) has put the prices through the roof,’ the farmer told The Sydney Morning Herald.
As someone observed