Planned burns in the Whitsundays 2020

Whitsunday Islands

When it comes to wildfire, life in Australia is all about maintaining the balance between the conservation and the protection of wildlife and natural habitats and minimising the risk of mass habitat destruction and the loss of life which occurs as the result of bushfires. Although sometimes controversial, planned burns are a vital tool for maintaining this delicate balance as they reduce the number of dead trees and natural debris that build upon the forest floor and provide fuel for wildfire.

Each year the Whitsunday Regional Council, together with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the local fire brigades, conduct planned burns and fire hazard reduction activities in public areas such as the Whitsunday Islands National Parks, Haslewood Island, Lupton Island, Gloucester Islands National Park, Middle Island, Saddleback Island, Olden Island and Grassy Island. Maintenance and slashing (mowing) of existing fire breaks is also performed twice a year as part of the regional Bushfire Management Plans which you can find here.

The aim of these planned burns is to promote the health and well-being of natural forests and bushland by creating favourable conditions for forest regeneration and decreasing the build-up of forest waste which can contribute to the ferocity of wildfire. The public should not be alarmed when planned burns are strategically conducted in high-risk areas around the Whitsundays - they are part of a bigger picture to keep the Islands and surrounding area healthy and thriving for many years to come. Every planned burn is conducted by highly trained professional firefighters under very controlled conditions as part of annual hazard reduction plans put in place by the local government and councils. 

Advance notice of all planned burns is provided to the public through various channels and more information on regions and dates for the scheduled activities can be found on the Whitsunday Regional Council website or on the Park Alerts section of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service website which details activity and warnings for Queensland’s National Parks. In general, a planned burn will have no adverse effect on residents or travellers in the area, however, it is warned that anyone boating in the area should take extra care as smoke may decrease visibility on the water.

If you are travelling through Queensland it is important to be aware of any planned or unplanned fire activity in the area and keep yourself updated on any current warnings so you do not accidentally place yourself in harm’s way. For the latest information on fire activity within the State of Queensland, please visit the Queensland Government Fire and Emergency Services website. In general, the Whitsundays have never experienced a bush fire event resulting in evacuations. You can read more about how the Whitsundays is lagely protected from catastrophic bushfires here. 

For information on the current 2020 bushfire crisis happening in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and how it may or may not affect your tour in the Whitsundays, read more here. 

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