Australian Capital Territory and south-west New South Wales, October 1951

ACT and south-west NSW bushfires, 1951

Quick Statistics

13 Fatalities
£6 million Insurance Costs

From October 1951 to January 1952, a number of fires burned across the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales (NSW).

Approximately 5,000 fires burned 4.5 million hectares in western NSW.

  • November, Pilliga area: 371,000 hectares of cypress pine forest and bush burnt
  • November, Dubbo/Forbes: 266,000 hectares of grassland burnt
  • January, Mangoplah (near Wagga Wagga): 330,000 hectares burnt.

The damage was estimated at over £6 million.

In the ACT, 10,000 hectares burnt, with fires bearing down on the urban areas of Canberra. 

Eleven people died in NSW; two people died in the ACT.


ACT Emergency Services Agency, History of bushfires, website viewed 7 December 2011.
Bureau of Meteorology, Stormy weather – a century of storms, fire flood and drought in New South Wales, p 24, website viewed 8 December 2011.
The Canberra Times, 20 May 1952, ‘NSW £ 6 ½ million in six months’, viewed on Trove website (ID 2855515) 8 December 2011.
Council of Australian Governments 2004, National Bushfire Inquiry: Appendix D: Fire history in Australia, 2 April 2004, website viewed 8 December 2011.
Fraser B 1984, Macquarie book of events. 1st edn. Netley, South Australia: Macquarie Library Pty. Ltd. 1984, p 582.
Sydney Morning Herald 1951, 'Bushfires devastate 64 State Forests', 26 October 1951, p. 1, Viewed on Trove website (ID 18236494) 25 October 2013.