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Bushfires in Australia

Australia is in no doubt a sunburnt country and our unique landscape shares a long and important relationship with fire.

Did you know that fire is an important tool used by Aboriginal people to protect and manage the land? Traditional fire management methods are often called ‘cultural burning’, ‘fire stick farming’ or ‘cool burning’. Regular cool burns do more than reduce the risk of bushfires; they encourage biodiversity and a healthy environment. Local fire brigades also work to reduce the risk of bushfire by using conventional methods called ‘back burning’ and ‘hazard reduction burning’.  

Fire management is crucial in Australia, whichever method is applied. In this digital resource, explore the factors that cause bushfires to become out of control. Investigate the different ways that Australians respond to bushfire threats. Discover more about the various approaches to land conservation and the important role of bushfires. 

Stage 3 Geography  
  • GE3-1 describes the diverse features and characteristics of places and environments 
  • GE3-2 explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments 
  • GE3-3 compares and contrasts influences on the management of places and environments 
  • GE3-4 acquires, processes and communicates geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry 


Communicating Geographical Information 
  • present findings and ideas in a range of communication forms as appropriate -ACHGS038, ACHGS045 
  • reflect on their learning to propose individual and collective action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and describe the expected effects of their proposal on different groups of people - ACHGS039, ACHGS046 
  • Literacy  
  • Critical and Creative Thinking 
  • Personal and Social  
  • Ethical Understanding 
  • Intercultural Understanding 

Assessment opportunities for teachers 

  • The information gathered in the 'Planning for Fire' section can be used to develop a Fire Management Plan. This is a great opportunity for a whole-class learning project. This project may be utilised as a summative assessment of student learning. The concepts explored in the four activities link to Outcomes and Skills from the Geography syllabus. 

Aboriginal Land Management 

  • Activity 1 - Venn diagram suggested answers here.

Some primary sources for further viewing  

The role of fire here at the Botanic Gardens  

Indigenous games to play with kids! 

Did you know? 

  • Native Australian birds are known to utilise fire for hunting. Read more in “Animals that light fires” - Australian Geographic  

Further reading and listening  

  • “Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management Could Save Australia” (2020) by Victor Steffenson available at Angus and Robertson  
  • “Fighting Fire with Fire” Australian Story webpage article with video and interview with Victor Steffensen.  
  • “Aboriginal Fire Management with Victor Steffensen” Podcast #30 by Pip permaculture  
  • “Bushfire Impacts, Recovery and Outlook” Branch Out podcast 
  • "Building Resilient Ecosystems for Threatened Animals" NITV webpage article by Luke Briscoe (2017)
  • Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation network -