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Kangaroo Island Fire Survivor Pleads For Tourism After Visitors Cancel Trips

It has been a devastating year for Kangaroo Island businesses battling drought and extreme bushfire but now they're experiencing strike three -- the loss of tourism.

The bushfires stopped just four kilometres from Bev and Larry Turner’s family-run Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery on Kangaroo Island. It left one part of the island scorched by flame, but the flow-on effects are being felt by all.

“It’s pretty horrible, we’re like an island divided,” Bev told 10 daily.

“On our side, we need people to come back and support business, but then the other side has just lost everything and you feel horrible that you’re still here…but you’ve got to go on.”

Fires stopped just four kilometres from the family-run business. Image: Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery

Fire took out around one-third of the island, 13 kilometres off the South Australian coast.

Even those saved from the fire are feeling the ill-effects, even after tourists were allowed to return to the site.

“All the tourists cancelled, we’ve never seen anything like it and we’ve been in with drought business for 29 years,” Bev said.

"Tourism is a huge income. You don’t realise the loss of it impacts on absolutely every business and industry."

This in addition to long-standing drought which weighs on the family and its iconic farm residents.

“Our emus are the mascot of our business because the company that owned it three decades ago were famous for emu oil,” Bev explained.

“They roam in a big, fenced-in area because they’re not native to the island but it has been so dry for them too.”

A long-awaited swim. Image: Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery

Thankfully, that has now changed.

“We were all in the office and suddenly it started raining,” Bev said.

“My husband said, ‘I reckon the emu pond will fill up’ and we really needed it to because it has been all cracked and dry as a bone.

“When we walked out there, we saw our emus swimming. It would be over a year since we saw them doing that."

National

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In just two hours the pond went from empty to full, and they’ve received follow-up rain on Sunday.

“We were all so excited, it was so good to see them happy and it will hopefully have put out the fires.”

They hope it’s a sign of more good things to come.

“At the moment it is quieter than winter, which is our off-season, but people are saying they really want to support us and online orders have been trickling through.”

Despite the challenging conditions Bev assures visitors: “We’re open for business and we need it”.