Summer is a time when Australia usually thrives. Millions travel to get a hefty dose of sunshine, feel white sand between their toes and salty water on their skin. This year it's a different story.

Australia bushfires have ravaged more than 11 million hectares of land, killing at least 33 people including four firefighters. In NSW alone, they’ve wiped out over five hectares and more than 2,000 homes, making it the worst-hit state.

To support those affected by the terrifying blazes, comedian and Instagram celebrity Celeste Barber fundraised more than A$50 million; celebrities including the Hemsworth family and Leonardo DiCaprio donated millions of dollars; firefighters from New Zealand, the US and Canada bravely saved thousands of communities, and countless Australians opened their doors providing much needed support to those who lost their livelihoods.

As many blazes continue to burn, communities are feeling the effects at a time when they would usually thrive on tourism.

While the total cost of the bushfires is yet to be determined, it is already at A$700 million according to Insurance Council of Australia – and is expected to climb.

“We encourage Australians and international travellers alike to explore Australia’s many wonderful destinations and experiences and help keep our tourism industry strong.” – Phillipa Harrison

To help affected towns, holiday makers are being encouraged to plan a getaway to popular Australian destinations. In addition, the #emptyesky campaign encourages travellers to pack an empty esky and fill it with local goods bought from regional towns to support small businesses. The social media hashtag mirrors the #buyfromthebush campaign which encourages people to shop rurally.

Tourism Australia recently launched its A$20 million domestic marketing campaign and A$25 million international marketing campaign to encourage jetsetters to support directly affected communities, showcasing Australia is safe and open for business.

“The announcement of a tourism recovery package will provide much needed support for Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry and the thousands of tourism businesses that underpin it,” Tourism Australia Managing Director Phillipa Harrison says.

“We encourage Australians and international travellers alike to explore Australia’s many wonderful destinations and experiences and help keep our tourism industry strong.”

Some towns are safe and ready to welcome tourists today, while others are still fighting fire fronts but will be open for business in months to come.

Adelaide Hills, SA

Draw card:

Award-winning wineries

Getting here:

30-minute drive from Adelaide

Safest time to visit:

Now.

So close to Adelaide, the rolling green hills are described as a fairy tale and are home to some of the country’s most prestigious wineries.

From leafy groves and stunning cellar doors to delicious artisan restaurants, Adelaide Hills offers an oasis of wildlife encounters and cultural discoveries.

This area was singed by the Cudlee Creek Bushfire, and tourists are encouraged to visit the wineries and buy bottles of wine that not only taste incredible but also warm your heart.

“The Australian spirit is well and truly alive, and the Hills are well and truly open for business,” Visit Adelaide Hills shared online.

All the directly impacted areas including Lobethal, Woodside, Lenswood, Charleston, Cudlee Creek, Gumeracha, Harrogate, Kenton Valley and Mount Torrens are now safe and open for visitors.

Blue Mountains, NSW

Draw card:

Iconic Three Sisters

Getting here:

90-minute drive from Sydney

Safest time to visit:

Most areas are now open. Check online for up-to-date information.

Australia bushfires recovery

The picturesque World Heritage area was ravaged by fires causing damage to regular commuter train lines and the loss of hundreds of trees, however, many of the popular towns have since been listed safe to visit.

From the quaint village of Katoomba and the iconic Scenic World, which is home to the steepest railway incline in the world, to the enchanting Grand Canyon walking track, you can experience some of nature’s finest offerings.

However, some areas around the Blue Mountains remain closed including tracks around Grose Valley, Ruined Castle, Golden Stairs or Mount Solitary due to bushfires and hazards.

Kosciuszko National Park, NSW

Draw card:

Thredbo and Snowy Mountains

Getting here:

2.5-hour drive from Canberra

Safest time to visit:

Most places have reopened to the public.

A winter wonderland in the cooler months, Kosciuszko National Park was largely destroyed by bushfires at the turn of the decade.

A third of the Australian Alps was burned, creating an ecological emergency as it is home to many of the country’s threatened species.

“The rooftop of Australia is open!” Snowy Mountains shared online. “Take your time … and stop by the wonderful towns along the way to support the businesses that make The Snowy Mountains what they are.”

Fellow park Thredbo Resort has also reopened with usual summer resort operations ready for business.

“All in-resort facilities including Kosciuszko Express Chair, the Thredbo Mountain Bike Park, Thredbo Leisure Centre, resort walking trails, golf, tennis, bobsled and all Thredbo retail and food and beverage venues will resume,” it announced online.

However, some areas including Thredbo Valley Trail and surrounding hikes remain closed.

Shoalhaven, NSW

Draw card:

Pearl white sand of Jervis Bay

Getting here:

3-hour drive from Sydney

Safest time to visit:

Now.

Famed for its breathtaking white shores and turquoise water, the seaside paradise of Jervis Bay makes for an idyllic holiday at Shoalhaven.

Devastated by the South Coast bushfires in December 2019 and early January 2020, parts of the coastal region are ready to thrive once again.

“The green shoots of our future will absolutely be there, but we need you to help us rejuvenate our economy and come and see these gorgeous places that we still have on offer for you,” Mayor Shoalhaven City Amanda Findley says.

While some areas are still facing possible fire impact, check for the latest visitor updates.

Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Draw card:

One of Australia’s most beautiful valleys

Getting here:

2-hour drive from Sydney

Safest time to visit:

Now.

Australia bushfire recovery
Image: Glanzpunkt.

Although a firestorm ripped through the tranquil Kangaroo Valley just after the New Year, most of the village was left untouched. In fact, visitors won’t even see burned areas along the main road into the peaceful village.

As the town relies heavily on tourism, travellers are encouraged to visit to support the community through the upcoming quieter months.

One of the best attractions aside from the quaint village is its iconic Hampden Bridge. The Victorian-era wooden suspension bridge is one of the few suspension bridges in the country.

“You can support us by eating at our cafés, shopping in our shops, coming to our events and staying in our holiday homes. Don’t forget to bring your empty eskies too,” Visit Kangaroo Valley shared online.

Kangaroo Island, SA

Draw card:

Nature’s gem

Getting here:

45-minute ferry ride from Adelaide

Safest time to visit:

Eastern part of island is now safe.

Australia bushfire recovery

Getting to the heart of nature is easy at South Australia’s famed Kangaroo Island.

Only a few weeks ago much of the island was engulfed by fierce flames killing 27 people and at least 25,000 koalas as well as destroying more than 2,100 homes and countless businesses.

But now much of the eastern side of the island is safe and ready to welcome visitors to help rebuild the economy.

Sweeping green plains, mouthwatering food, friendly pubs, breathtaking scenery and award-winning artists showcasing their work at boutique galleries are just some of the attractions to delve into on the island.