SONiA Rutstein and Terry Irons. circa 2019

SONiA Rutstein and Terry Irons. circa 2019

January 25th 2020

 

When I landed in Sydney Australia in December 18th the sky was full of ash and as we drove down to the Harbour you could barely see the Sydney Opera House, later in the week there was ash on our clothes that we hung on the line. But we never once thought of leaving, instead we headed north to the Sunshine Coast for a couple days at the beach before heading to Woodford Folk Festival.  As we drove north we found ourselves in tears as we witnessed acre after acre of burned out forest and animals that were clearly not getting enough food.  We still never thought about leaving instead wondered what we could do to help.

After an unexpected trip back to the US for my mother in law’s funeral we saw headline after headline on the nightly news about the fires in Australia. Several of them stating that tourist were being evacuated and that it was dangerous to travel to the country that we had just left. The headlines were more than worrisome, it was irresponsible. Australia was being devastated and the last thing it needed was to lose more tourism.  We returned and as I sit writing this I am back in the Sydney area after bring at the 35th annual Illawarra Folk Festival and today the Traveler section of the The Sydney Morning Herald included an article written by Sue Williams and Anthony Dennis called Rising From The Ashes about 50 ways that tourists can help.  I won’t list them here but let me sum it by saying that what Australia does not need is us to stay away.  The fires and other storms have cost this country over 2.1 Billion dollars so far.  Are there areas that you can not go to, yes. But there are plenty of areas that you can visit and they need us.  Several festivals have been cancelled one located in the town of Cobargo that has been devastated with many of the festival committee dealing with the lose of their homes.  While the festival will not take place this year, next year I have no doubt that Australians will come out in force to bring them back and I think we should do the same.  We all have choices to make in our vacation time and dollars but I can tell you that I will do everything I can to support a country that is being directly affected by the climate issues that all of us have helped create.  If you have ever thought of visiting Australia, move it to the top of your list.  If you live here stay domestic for your vacation this year. They need you and I promise you there are still plenty of beautiful beaches and wonderful towns to visit. From Illawarra to Double Bay to the Gold Coast, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast or west to SA the people are wonderful and the trip will be worth your while.

Side note: read the article in The Sydney morning Herald. https://www.traveller.com.au/the-50-ways-travellers-can-help-australia-recover-from-the-bushfires-h1l5y1

Here is a link to an animal rescue that deals with animals year round, not just animals affected by the fires but from the heat and other issues as well and we know these folks.

https://www.facebook.com/Bush-Babies-Wildlife-Shelter-156322711190848/?ref=bookmarks

 

1/27/20 Double Bay Intercontinental

1/27/20 Double Bay Intercontinental

I have been traveling my whole life, first as the child of a military family and then as a young adult and now for business.  During that time I have seen some amazing changes to the way we get around the world but there are things that have changed for the worse.  No matter how crowded the flights were when I was little people always seemed to be happy they were traveling.  There were no fees for luggage, or peanuts and when they introduced headphones I don’t remember there being a cost for them either.  Now when you book a ticket at least the law has made the advertised cost to include taxes so there is no surprise there but that’s where it stops.  Unless like me you read the fine print you could find yourself paying for just about anything on your flight.  But tonight as I checked in for our flight tomorrow I saw a travel advisory and while I knew it was not for the flight we were taking I read it.  We fly Delta a lot and not because they are the most convenient airline to our travel plans because often they are not, but because of their support to Human Rights over the years and they just seem to care. Today in their travel advisory was a notice that they were waiving Luggage Fees and Pet fees for those people fleeing from areas in the path of Dorian.  I loved reading this.  All of us have seen the stories about people taking advantage of those suffering in storms with price gouging and even tonight on the world news was a story about an official in Puerto Rica taking bribes from the contractors doing storm clean up there.  Delta’s announcement did not make National News but I wish it had.  I think we all benefit from a world that shares news about companies and people doing the right thing.  I know it made my night just knowing that a company I choose to support, chose to do the right thing.