Pia Miller, Laura Byrne and Angie Kent all called for her to lead the country instead of embattled Scott Morrison. Miller posted “Celeste Barber for PM”, a sentiment echoed by Byrne who tagged her post: “#CelesteForPM – What a woman.” Former Bachelorette Kent wrote: “This is what happens when we work together and have strong humans leading the way. Thank you, Celeste, and your army of amazing people.”
Other stars heaping praise on her included Natalie Portman, Rebecca Gibney, Sophie Monk, Magda Szubanski, Wil Anderson and Selma Blair.
Barber, 37, paid tribute to the generosity of her fans. “People are amazing. Power to the people. Someone needed to do something and the people have done something.”
As the amount being donated to her fund reached over $1000 a SECOND, she added: “This is out of control! You are all out of control. My love and appreciation for you all is out of control. Unfortunately today the fires are due to get even more out of control.”
As conditions worsened over the weekend, she grew more concerned about her husband, Api’s mum. “They are facing catastrophic conditions. The town has been left to fend for itself. I feel sick.”
Meanwhile, popstar Pink pledged $500,000, telling her 32 million Twitter followers: “I am totally devastated watching what is happening in Australia right now.”
Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid and Sofia Richie also promised to make donations. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban gave $500,000, the amount they gave after Black Saturday in 2009.
Kylie Minogue is giving the same figure.
Rebecca Judd contributed $50,000, while Ricki-Lee Coulter raised $8000 through her Facebook page. Delta Goodrem posted a tribute song she’d written for those battling the flames.
Firefighters saved model-turned-author Tara Moss’ house in the Blue Mountains and left her a note praising the preparations she’d made, and thanking her for leaving them tea-making facilities. “This note brought me to tears,” she said on Instagram. “You absolute champions.”
Singer Cody Simpson said he felt helpless watching the crisis from Colorado. “Climate change is real & we must DEMAND world leaders prioritize the earth over economics. Scott Morrison I’m looking at you right now!”
Teenage climate campaigner Greta Thunberg was also scornful of the response by politicians. “Australia is on fire. And the summer there has only just begun. 2019 was a year of record heat and record drought … All of this still has not resulted in any political action. We still fail to make the connection between the climate crisis and increased extreme weather events like the #AustraliaFires. That has to change.”
Meanwhile, there was anger at UK TV personality Jeremy Clarkson after he joked about the fires, which have so far killed at least23. In his column in a Murdoch-owned newspaper, the former Top Gear presenter wrote that God created Australia “as a continent far, far away where he could house all his experiments that had gone wrong … For millions of years, this big, sandy cupboard under the stairs went unnoticed … Plainly, God is embarrassed. Because he’s decided to set fire to it. People must accept that Australia isn’t meant for human habitation.” He has previously slammed Thunberg, calling her “an idiot”.
REAL LIFE STORIES
Trapped in a fire tornado
Rae Harvey, from Runnyford, NSW, thought that she and her beloved roos were safe...
Rae Harvey had been preparing her home on the banks of the Clyde River for the bushfire season for months. She’d swept up all the wood and leaves on the ground and stockpiled a few months’ worth of food for both her and the injured kangaroos she cared for at her sanctuary there. But when a vast blaze swept through last week, the brick house didn’t stand a chance.
Rae spent New Year’s Eve hosing down her lawn and the walls of the property even though the nearest fire front was kilometres away. But, she told WHO this week, when she woke the next morning, there were flames everywhere.
“My neighbour Simon, who’s an RFS volunteer, banged on my window at 4am screaming ‘It’s here, get ready, get up!’ I was in my pyjamas and I spent the next two hours with hoses defending my home – Simon’s house was already in flames. My plan was to stay at home to protect the roos… I thought I’d be safe as the house is made of brick.
"But we couldn’t stop the fire so I quickly grabbed my cat, Coco, and fled to the river with the fire licking our heels. We jumped in but it was so deep I couldn’t swim and hold Coco above the water. The flames were right behind us. I looked up and suddenly saw a boat with a man standing in it. It was Simon! Jumping on board, I looked back at my home, but all I could see were flames. And on the other side of the water, another fire front was coming over the mountains. The river banks were engulfed in flames so big like a fire tornado. It was an apocalypse. It broke my heart that all my roos must have perished. We tried to paddle downstream, but the smoke was so overwhelming. As the fire-ravaged properties, gas bottles were exploding like bombs and firefighting planes screamed overhead dropping fire retardant.
We sought shelter at a nearby oyster farm, but we were forced to flee again as the flames got closer. Further down we found the evacuation centre, but it was chaos, wall to wall people so we couldn’t fit.
Finally we found a shopping centre to shelter in. Simon returned to our properties the next day to put out spot fires and told me everything was gone - my home, my beloved roos, my car. It was a waste land. But as he was on the phone, he screamed down the phone ‘There’s about 20 roos!’ Apparently they’d heard Simon arrive and had rushed up to him begging for food and water. One even rubbed his face against him as if to say thank you. I cannot believe they survived. I may have lost everything, but I feel like I have won the lottery that those kangaroos survived. Take everything I own because houses are replaceable, wildlife are not.”
Five days after the fire, Rae returned to her property to nurse her traumatised animals. She says she is still crying herself to sleep at night, imagining the ones that didn’t make it.
To support Rae’s sanctuary search ‘Wild 2 Free Inc’ on GoFundMe.com.
"We were all stranded"
New year’s eve became a three-day nightmare for Jack Brand-O’Bryan, at Lake Conjola, NSW.
Sydneysider Jack Brand-O’Bryan stayed at his nan’s house in Fishermans Paradise, on the NSW South Coast, over Christmas. For New Year, he and a few friends drove 10 minutes to Lake Conjola, but what was supposed to be a day of fun, turned into a horrifying three-day ordeal as extreme weather sent a bushfire hurtling towards them and he was forced to shelter. Jack told WHO about the day 89 people lost their homes and three lost their lives.
“We went for a surf for a few hours, and then Nan called to say there was a fire near her home. We tried to get back, but the only road was closed. Within an hour we were forced onto the beach. Everyone was rushing and panicking, trying to get as close to the water as possible – there were 5000 people there with babies crying – and flames [were] appearing on all sides.
"Helicopters started dumping water from the lake all around us to put out the fires, but the wind was so strong and the sand hitting your skin was almost unbearable. It lasted for hours before we were told it was safe to leave the beach. Powerlines were down, the roads were closed and there was no EFTPOS so we couldn’t even buy food.
Jack will never forget how he welcomed 2020, and cannot speak highly enough of the brave men and women from the RFS andSES, who worked to help those in need. “I can’t thank them enough.”
"All we had were the clothes we were wearing. For more than two days we were stranded, living in darkness with limited food until finally we found someone with a boat to take us across to Fishermans Paradise. Luckily, my family and their homes were all OK.”