High risk Australian bushfire season during a sit - Questions

Hi all,
I’ve posted this in both homeowner and sitters section.
This might be a curly one for most because there’s not always fire in the forefront of everyone’s mind. But in our case as sitters and homeowners living in a bush surrounding, it most certainly is number 1 at the moment in our thought process.

We have secured two sits overseas in Mid December/Jan/Feb respectively and we expect to be able to fill in the gaps with a few more or by some paid accommodation and hotel stays as well.
However, when I booked these sits and got a sitter at the beginning of the year I wasn’t expecting the fire season to be like this. It did cross my mind, but at the time the forecast wasn’t predicting an EL Nino type of climate driver as well as the Indian Ocean Dipole.

We have also secured a sitter for our place, also from overseas and my husband and I and even our daughter are now really unsure whether it’s a good idea to leave right in the middle of fire season. we will be leaving behind our bees, chooks and dogs.

The house is secondary to the animals, but also I would feel for our sitters who might find this absolutely terrifying if they were to get caught up in an evacuation.

I am thinking about the option of running them thoroughly through a fire plan and ensuring they have the NSW fire service app on their phones that gives you status and news for fires in the area.
What would you all do in this case?
Would you cancel the December sit and maybe go to the late Jan/Feb sit instead? (Fire season ends in March)
Or would you risk it and leave with a plan in place? I have to consider our sitters, the sitters we have booked and our house and pets in this equation.

-One thing we can do is let our sitters stay in our self-contained area out the back which would allow them to become accustomed to the house and pets etc… before we leave. But I think this is cold comfort…! and I haven’t suggested this to the sitters yet.

The sitters are due to arrive early December, which means we would have them here for a month or more before we leave.
Initially, it is early-mid December when we are leaving. But this might change to early Jan instead to mid-Feb only and the sitters are leaving late Feb.
I haven’t spoken to the sitters but I have mentioned the problem to the homeowners (it will be our second sit with them) and I said we would have a decision by September (this month).
I’d love some suggestions I haven’t yet thought of… Or some experiences

@DOGDOC , this may be of no help at all but before I post my thoughts, it sounds like you are inviting the sitters for a long stay at your home while you are also there. This goes against the no-third-parties-present clause in the THS T&C’s. And because fire season doesn’t end until March, all of the sits in Dec, Jan and Feb could be affected equally. I think it’s hard for anyone to tell you what to do here.

OK, here’s what comes to mind: I would suggest you sit quietly and listen to your inner voice as you consider each of these scenarios

You cancel your sits and stay home. There are fires but you are prepared and able to
evacuate with your animals.

You cancel your sits and stay home and there are no fires.

You leave for your sits and your sitters end up having to deal with fires and do so successfully.

You leave for your sits and your sitters have to deal with fires but there are problems.

You leave for your sits and the sitters have an uneventful stay and no fires to deal with.

Ask yourself how disappointed you would be to miss your sits? Compare this to how you would feel if your sitters ran into problems with fires?

This is a crap shoot. It’s hard to know the right answer. You have to consider the probability of disaster and if it’s worth the sacrifice if something were to go very wrong.

What you should probably do is discuss the subject with your sitters and see how they honestly feel.


Hi Mars.

Wow, this is seriously helpful!! Thank you. I might do a risk analysis and put these outcomes in and see what happens.


Unsure how to get the replies below the appropriate post!!

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Hi again Mars,
The sitters are booked to come here from early December to late Feb, same as our sits overseas. So if we cancelled December sit, it would mean they would also have to reschedule their tickets, which I am unsure if they are able. As to third parties, I suspect that means additional people - because the sitters absolutely need to be here while we are here to ensure everything is covered off thoroughly before we leave. I’ve never done a sit where I show up after the owners leave.
It’s not enough to give them a manual/book in this circumstance. They need to see the place and physically know where everything is located and how things work as part of the fire plan and also generally. It would be irresponsible of us to leave without the sitters being thoroughly shown how things work. Same with other homeowners, all of them have requested we stay earlier to run through things.

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FWIW - I’ve done one sit in Calif and one in Washington where there are possibilities of fires. In both cases, the HOs allowed me to use their cars, both for getting around and sightseeing a bit and in case of a fire.
The Calif sit had the greater possibility of fire or that the electricity to the house might be shut off if their were high winds. I was shown how to power up the generator (not automatic) and which appliances to unplug so as to allow the generator to support basic functions. We also reviewed how to ‘corral’ the 3 cats and get them into their carriers if I would need to evacuate with them. Finally we added the local text message alert system to my phone so I would be warned if evacuation was required.


You can video things if you’re saying they need to see elements before a sit or to decide whether the sit makes sense to them beforehand.

Being an Australian also, I completely understand your concerns @DOGDOC, especially where bushfires have already started in NSW, QLD and TAS which is very early indeed. It’s already being forecast that this could be a bumper season for bushfires, similar to 2019/2020.
I would definitely be in touch with your sitters to get input from them. They need time to assess the possible scenarios too. Are they sitters who you selected because of their capabilities in dealing with situations such as bushfires? Do they drive on the left hand side? Trying to escape with thick smoke all around and visibility low plus driving perhaps on the unaccustomed other side of the road could be a very serious potential hazard. Do you have any close neighbours to help? How much would you enjoy your sits abroad knowing there is the potential of bushfires in your location?
It’s a very difficult decision for you (and your sitters coming) because who knows where and when the bushfires will occur.
Good luck!


FWIW, there probably are more people familiar with wildfire risks and evacuation preparedness than might be obvious. That’s because changing climate patterns have been increasing fire risks in various parts of the world, affecting millions upon millions of people.

For example, I manage large remote teams, including ones with people all over the U.S. During repeat summers, I’ve had team members within or close to wildfire zones at the same time in various parts of the country. Various folks were evacuated and some had to have their belongings (and their families and pets) ready to evacuate within minutes if authorities issued alerts (often via cell phones / apps).

Personally, I’ve lived in multiple areas affected by nearby wildfires — toxic smoke that required us all to wear N95 masks; ash floating onto our homes and cars; having to use towels or other materials to close door or window gaps; getting extra air purifiers; etc.

When we moved most recently, we bought homes aimed at avoiding such risks and even then the most recent wildfires in Canada affected our air quality.

I mention this, because sitters might not be as unfamiliar or freaked out as you’d imagine. Again, millions upon millions of people have been affected by wildfires directly or indirectly.

Even vacationers have been evacuated at times — from national parks and such — because of wildfire, adding to experience levels among the public.


Hi @DOGDOC , absolutely a good idea to orient your sitters to the house and animals while you’re there. It was the quote above I referred to but I realize this would only be the case if the sitters arrived as scheduled and you canceled your first sit(s). I’m sure you would work it out. Please let us know the outcome.


Hi Temba

Exactly my point about considering things such as driving on the other side and all the other things etc… that’s something I hadn’t considered and would certainly consider as an aspect to alleviate the risk profile. Thank you!

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Hi @DOGDOC. I was just reading this article from the ABC which you might find interesting. Skip the bottom bits re each State but the opening paragraphs are quite interesting.

I am in Queensland and Thursday we had 36 degrees :hot_face: then Friday it went to 23 degrees, rather cool for me! Who knows WHAT the future holds these days :person_shrugging:x

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We faced the same situation in BC a couple of months back. The hosts were only going three hours away but we still ran through all emergency procedures and the neighbours were prepped to help. The horses were easy - into the loose box and transported somewhere else. The pigs were a different story. They didn’t like going into their travel crates and once they were in there it was damned heavy. So we left the crates open and put food in them to get them used to going in and out and the neighbours would help with the heavy lifting.
Thankfully the fires were at least ten miles away for most of the time. The last day we were having power cuts for a couple of hours at a time. When the hosts returned they were in a panic. A small fire had started two miles away. The road had been blocked and the power had been turned off as a precaution. The power lines were very near. We knew nothing about it. The fire brigade got it under control very quickly and the animals were safe.
One thing we did ask, was there anything they wanted lifted from the house.
This was not a sit through THS.


Yep @ziggy @temba that’s our wide brown land ! So huge, such diverse weather conditions. We are leaving in a couple of hours to drive 1200km from our place in Brisbane to a sit in Canberra down the inland route. It’s ingrained in us to think about the weather conditions no matter what time of year it is. You just never know what you will experience. But good old ABC radio is our constant travel companion as they are one of the best sources for broadcasting local, state and national natural disaster info.


My husband and I were taking a cruise around Australia and New Zealand when 2019’s Australia wildfires burned madly. The sunsets were vivid, because of the pollution in the atmosphere.

  1. On the way to Melbourne from Sydney.
  2. Off Tasmania.
  3. A newspaper I bought at the time.

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@Crookie yes, I used to work in Canberra for a then Prime Minister and sometimes we would actually DRIVE home to Brissie for a weekend!! Crazy huh? Always took that inland road, beautiful canola fields, and beautiful little towns along the way. I dragged my best friend from the Gold Coast to Canberra to live, against her will, and she is still there some 50 yrs later lol Doing very well for themselves as business owners at Fyshwick Markets. Love Canberra and brings back great memories. But yes, we are raised to be constantly aware of weather conditions and possibilities/probabilities. @ElsieDownie certainly not a great situation to be in during fires but you handled it well. In fire regions here, most people have a plan in place in regards what to grab in case of evacuation, usually kept somewhere easy. Like photographs and important documents etc, anything that is basically irreplaceable. Other things can be replaced so it is only the most precious that are stored in one area for a quick grab and run. Animals of course are the priority to get out.

Enjoy Canberra, Crookie, and if you are at the markets anytime, drop by the deli or fruit shop and say hi to Barbara or Jack for me, (Sue) they will get quite the surprise :joy: It’s worth going there anyway, it’s amazing.

@ziggy we are taking the road less travelled today, going over the Qld/NSW border at Texas, down to Warialda and Mudgee. We have never driven that way. A bit too old & creaky to do a Canberra GC trip for the weekend! Love the small country towns, particularly the bakeries. Just stopped at Aratula bakery & they had the best looking sausage rolls :yum:

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Huh! Was only in Aratula last week! Enjoy the drive, my friend is doing that same route next week.

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Hope you bought a few bottles of wine at Mudgee @Crookie. Lovely route you’re taking to Canberra.

Hi Mars
An update for you because I used your bullet point scenarios with the family and the sitters coming here and we’re considering a compromise of going later but we will give December and half of January a miss and go second half of Jan and into Feb, that means we only cancel one sit. Or, I will go to the sit again and leave hubby here (his long service kicks in anyway at the end of Jan) and then he will meet us for the second one. What does everyone think? I will hear back from the sitters in a few days. I basically described the scenario that played out in 2020 for us when the fires were coming down the road at us. I also described how prepared we were and what we would expect from them, (not much, just get the chooks out) and the dogs will be elsewhere I think, we might end up placing them in a friends home that’s not near any bush for the time instead of leaving them at our place and we will have our irreplacable belongings in storage). So that puts us somewhere between scenarios you’ve outlined and will (I think) alleviate some stress in going away. TBH I am looking at the last sentence of your points " Disappointed to cancel sits and comparing that with the stress of leaving and being uncertain of the outcome". This is a point I am now at and I am hoping to talk myself into one of the scenarios with the help of the sitters here and the HO of the first sit and the family. Thanks all for your very valuable input and understanding. Those of you who’ve had their house on fire would understand why this is not something to be just ‘washed over’ and taken lightly anymore. The likelihood has increased, the intensity of the fires have increased and the outcomes are poorer even with fire plans. So, with that in mind, I need to consider everyone in this scenario, not just myself.
As an aside, summers here aren’t as fun anymore, which is really sad.