New South Wales, January 2013

Bushfire - Coonabarabran, 2013

Quick Statistics

1 Injured
$35 Million Insurance Costs
51 Homes Destroyed

On 7 January 2013, bushfires started in the southern regions of New South Wales, when temperatures across the state reached 40 degrees Celsius and above. By 8 January, more than 100 fires were burning throughout the state and at times 30 of these were uncontrolled. Areas that experienced fires included Bowning, Nowra, Tarcutta, Brogo, Carlaminda Cooma Monaro, Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Yarrabin and the Kybeyan Valley. During the peak fire period, approximately 131,000 hectares were burnt across the state.

Up to 1,600 firefighters worked to bring the fires under control and to build containment lines to protect property and prepare for worsening fire conditions. A volunteer firefighter sustained burn injuries in Gundaroo and was airlifted to the Concord Hospital.
The weather conditions that fuelled fires in the south quickly moved north and fires started in the Hunter Valley, up to the Queensland border and west to Moree, Lithgow, Mudgee and Hargraves.

On 13 January, a large, fast moving bushfire entered the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran in northern New South Wales, damaging the lodge at the Siding Spring Observatory in the park. Specialist Rural Fire Service crews were flown into the fire zone to assist. The fire destroyed more than 51 homes near the National Park and damaged many others. A recovery centre opened in Coonabarabran to assist the local community.

On 15 January, the New South Wales Premier and the Federal Minister for Emergency Management announced that Natural Disaster Assistance would be available to 51 Local Government Areas affected by bushfires in New South Wales.

On 17 January, The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) announced that stock losses exceeded 12,000 head, mainly sheep and lambs. Wildlife losses were also significant.

The farm infrastructure and fence damage from the fire was extensive, with hundreds of kilometres of fences lost or damaged, hay supplies destroyed and farm structures burnt. The DPI teamed with farmers to establish a fodder and fencing donation register.

By 19 January, the Warrumbungle fire was still burning and escaped containment lines at Hickey Falls, approximately 30 kilometres south-west of Coonabarabran. It moved rapidly through grassland, burning 47,000 hectares.

The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments totalled $1,030,000. The Insurance Council of Australia declared the Coonabarabran bushfire a catastrophe, with the estimated cost from the bushfire $35 million.



ABC News, ‘NSW faces ‘worst ever’ fire danger day’, 8 January 2013 website viewed 8 January 2013.
The Australian, ’Coonabarabran fire break containment’, 18 January 2013, website viewed 18 January 2013.
Australian Financial Review, ‘Fire destroys 33 homes in northern NSW’, 14 January 2013, website viewed 15 January 2013.

Department of Primary Industries, Current bushfire situation, 25 January 2013, website viewed 20 February 2013.
Insurance Council of Australia, Historical disaster statistics, 2013, website viewed 4 March 2013.
N Roxon (Minister for Emergency Management, Attorney-General of Australia), media release, ‘Six more natural disaster declarations for fire affected areas of NSW’, 15 January 2013, website viewed 21 January 2013.
Roxon N (Minister for Emergency Management, Attorney-General of Australia), 2013, ‘Commonwealth disaster response plan activated to assist NSW’, Parliament House, Canberra, 8 January, website viewed 9 January 2013
New South Wales Government, Ministry for Police & Emergency Services, 21 January 2013, website viewed 12 February 2013.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service, 2013 ‘Fire fighter Injured at Gundaroo Fire’, media release 7 January, website viewed 19 February 2013.
Sydney Morning Herald, ‘It looked like an atom bomb: telescope saved but dangerous bushfire destroys homes’, 14 January 2013, website viewed 14 January 2013.