MUA member Antony Olsson tells of Bushfire Horror on South Coast NSW

Published: 20 Jan 2020

Comrades, Brothers and Sisters,

First, I would like to thank the MUA for your help. I am a proud MUA member and I will never forget what the MUA has done for me and my family recently and in the past.

I want to tell you a short story about myself what happened on the night of the fire and how the aftermath continues to affect us.

The fires in the Wadbilliga National park were started by lightning from a thunderstorm we had around a week before the new year.

With the high temperatures and the drought, we knew the fire was always going to be a threat, but I don’t think anyone ever knew just how bad they would affect us.

On the 30th of December I went to the local RFS fire station specifically to ask them about the position and the intensity of the fire and they told me it was safe to return to my home and stay the night and evacuate first thing in the morning.

So, my daughter Bella and I went home as normal, had dinner and my daughter went to sleep and I packed bags for my daughter, myself and my girlfriend.

Later that night around 11pm my mate and my neighbour both called me to warn me as the fire was only an hour away. Told me to evacuate my home. The fire front was approximately 40 kms wide. So I woke my daughter up and left home to stay at a mates in Cobargo where I thought was going to be a safe place. I left my daughter in my mate’s care and I returned to get my parents who at first were going to stay and defend their home.

When arriving at my parents’ home I could hear the fire like sounded like thunder strong winds and the heat was unbelievable. The sky was glowing red and the fire was still around 5kms away.

My father said to me ‘I am staying Tony what else do I have if I lose my home?’

I told him at least you will still be alive.

With that my father Alan, Mother Pricilla and myself threw whatever we could with the time we had into the car and we evacuated to Cobargo. 

The trip to Cobargo was a short trip 11 kms.  A very dangerous trip with the heavy smoke. By the time we arrived in Cobargo the whole town was on fire. So, I drove to my mate’s house woke my daughter for the second time and we evacuated to Bermagui. Around 18kms to another mate’s house. we were there a short time and we were evacuated again to the beach. There were thousands of people there.

We just had to sit and wait and wonder what was happening with our homes.

Two days later I had to drive through road blocks to get home. Not knowing what had happened at home was indescribable feeling even though we all knew it wouldn’t be good news. We could see the devastation as we drove along the road.

The first stop was my brother’s house. Fortunately, relatively untouched.

Then we had to walk a couple of kms due to trees over the road to my parents place which was smashed. They had no insurance. Then to my house which was still standing and a green garage with touch one touch all sticker still standing. Everything else totally burnt. Then on to my brother Philip's house which was also destroyed.

Now we are doing our best to rebuild our lives as best we can with all that we have left. A long road ahead but we all survived to tell the story.

Now my 80-year-old parents are now living where I used to live, and I am trying to make a double garage as comfortable as I can for myself and my daughter.

This has been a very emotional for me to write this story. I hope you can get an idea from the pictures.  Before and after photos of our loss.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Kind regards.

Antony Olsson

MUA Here to Stay!


MUA members can donate to help Tony and other members and communities affected by transferring money to 

Account Name: MUA Fire Appeal
BSB 802-000
Account Number: 4626 S5.2
For external:
BSB: 882-000
Account: 100103618
Account Name: MUA - Fire Appeal

Or Click here and donate via Chuffed:



Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney