I saw kindness. Compassion. I saw community spirit. I saw my faith in humanity restored.

Summer in Greater Sydney wasn’t what we expected or hoped it would be. The bushfire crisis that affected so much of our land – our country – was just so completely unprecedented.

As I’m writing this Ed’s letter, so much has happened that has broken our hearts. Over half a million animals have been killed in the NSW fires alone. Up to a third of our state’s koala population destroyed.
Lives have been lost including two of our own local Rural Fire Services volunteers, Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer of the Horsely Park Fire Brigade – our deepest condolences to their families and friends.

Families have been left without a home, people have lost their businesses and their livelihood. And amidst all of the horror, there is an uproar.

A cry out to our leaders to do more. To say more. To feel more. Social media has been ignited with political arguments. There has been a lot of finger pointing and debate around particular political parties and policies.

But whilst that has been the circumstances on a national level, on a local level, I have seen something else, something that inspires hope. As a Blue Mountains local myself, I joined a Facebook group for Blue Mountains residents, a group where residents, the local RFS branches and our Mayor, Mark Greenhill were able to communicate, sharing information on fire progress reports, back burning plans, weather updates, to ask questions and I even saw people volunteering to come and clean other people’s gutters that might not be capable of getting up a ladder to help fire proof their home.

I saw kindness. Compassion. I saw community spirit. I saw my faith in humanity restored. And I was reminded that this is one of the reasons I love living in Greater Sydney and raising my kids here too.
But one of my all-time favourite things about living in the Blue Mountains is seeing it transform into an autumn wonderland and after the summer we just had – autumn couldn’t come soon enough. We are all embracing the cooler weather, the welcome downpours of rain and the chance to get back to living our best lives in the places that we love most.

This issue I started a conversation with a local hero and RFS volunteer, Lucy Baranowski who chatted to us about what it was like being on the frontline during the catastrophic fire season – catch that on page 46.

But in the spirit of enjoying our beautiful and expansive region – we also shared the best animal experiences to be had all over Greater Sydney and one of my favourite features – we focus on the land and our beautiful local businesses that help us to reconnect with the natural landscape. You will need to flick to page 49 to find out more about these grassroots businesses changing our neighbourhood for the better.

Enjoy this issue and don’t forget to connect with us online at our new website and on our social channels.

Amanda