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Stirring photos: owners cling to their dogs during huge evacuation from AU coast

Inside navy ship HMAS Choules dogs and owners dog-serious
© Kristine Daniels‎ - Mallacoota Community News - Facebook

A series of inspiring pictures of evacuees and their pets has gone viral as the Australian navy continues to save thousands stranded on Australian beaches.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 07/01/2020, 14:25, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:34

Rescued from the coastal town of Mallacoota on Friday were the first of 4,000 people. They embarked MV Sycamore, followed soon afterwards by 1,000 souls who made it aboard HMAS Choules.


This is in the middle of the off lead pen - after a long night.

Posted by Kristine Daniels on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Those on HMAS Choules comprised tourists and locals evacuated at a moment's notice by the Australian navy after being advised that to try to flee inland was too risky. Homes and livelihoods were left to be devoured by the fires, and passengers travelled with only their most prized possessions: each other.

Pets welcome

For some, this meant they were accompanied by their dogs. From Choules, pictures of passengers and their pets began to circulate on line and were shared countless times across the internet.

On Facebook one of the lucky survivors wrote, “We evacuated on the HMAS Choules on Friday (3/1/20). The ship kindly set up the vehicle bay for pets and their owners throughout the 30 hours.”

Images of dogs in the arms of their owners, comforting and being comforted proved an inspiring tale of humanity for many.

Sympathy forthcoming

What an uplifting and beautiful post,” wrote Laurel Rathbone. “How important and comforting are our animals. Thanks for posting such lovely photographs.”

What amazing life affirming images,” wrote Janine Arendsen. “These bring more tears to my eyes than seeing burnt out houses. Thank goodness these beautiful people and their adoring pets are safe.”

This is every dog lovers dream!,” wrote Lisa Anne.

The trip from Mallacoota to Western Port in southern Victoria took around 20 hours, during which time staff on board the ship served around 3,500 meals to people on board, according to the Mail Online.

The bushfire warnings in the area have since been downgraded after rain fell, but dry conditions are expected again this Friday.