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Last Updated: Friday February 13 2009 15:45 GMT

Bushfires: Ricky in Australia

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Watch Newsround's special programme from Australia

Bushfires have killed almost 200 people in Australia and destroyed thousands of homes.

These are the worst bushfires EVER in Australia so Ricky has headed around the world to cover them for Newsround.

13 February

"Reporting from Australia been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all the Newsround team out here.

In the space of just three days, I managed to speak to many families and children at the Whittlesea Support Centre in Victoria, just outside of Melbourne.

Grandmother killed

Ricky filming in Australia
Ricky and Newsround cameraman Darryl
I heard how they were all coping without their mobile phones, cars and, of course, a place to live.

One of the boys I was talking to said he didn't want to be filmed. He told me his grandmother had died in the bushfires and so had some of his neighbours.

It's a very difficult time for many Australians at the moment, but surprisingly a lot of people are still upbeat and laughing despite the tragedy.

Celebs helping

In fact the whole of Australia has come together to support each other during this difficult time. Last night a telethon concert with Orlando Bloom and Nicole Kidman raised more than 20m for charity.

Ricky at ABC
Ricky at ABC in Australia
Many people I spoke to plan to return to their homes this weekend.

Others said they will never go home again as the bushfires have put them off living in the remote villages for life.

Getting my report back to the UK was difficult. I had to send my story all the way from Australia to England by satellite.

Beamed globally

We arranged to send all our films via ABC, an Australian broadcaster whcih is a bit like the BBC.

It's really bizarre to know that all my work has been beamed around the world in the space of a few minutes.

BEHIND THE SCENES
Ricky and producer Kirsti
This is the first time I've been to a different country to cover a story for Newsround.

The end result has been pretty rewarding and I hope that the people I've met over the past few days will be able to get their lives back on track."

12 February

"It's been a very busy day, speaking to people who have been affected by the biggest bushfires in Australian history.

Today I went to visit a support centre to see how homeless families are coping.

Homes are destroyed
Homes are destroyed
In the morning I arrived at the Whittlesea Support Centre, just 30 miles outside of Melbourne.

It's a place for people to seek refuge and stock up on supplies. Thousands of people gathered around the fields throughout the day - some of them in search of loved ones and neighbours, while others where trying to get their hands on some clean clothes and food.

Lost everything

The centre was really crowded with lots of children running about enjoying themselves. Despite the recent tragedy the mood at the centre was surprisingly uplifting.

Ricky and Kane
Ricky and Kane
I spoke to lots of kids who lost their homes in the fires. Kane, 13, told me that he lost absolutely everything including his beloved drum kit.

He said he wasn't that worried about losing his house as long as he still had his family.

Kane's story was similar to so many other children who had lost their homes. Some of the kids I spoke to had also lost a family member or they knew someone who died in the fires.

Lucky escape

It's been a very difficult time for them and many of the children are looking forward to starting school again so they can get back to living some kind of normal life again.

Hannah had a lucky escape
Hannah had a lucky escape
I also caught up with Hannah, she said her family had a lucky escape. She was told to leave her house with her mum and dad only a couple of hours before the ferocious fires spread across her village.

Luckily she made it out alive - but now - like so many other families, she has no toys, clothes or personal belongings, but amazingly she still had a smile on her face.

Abandoned pets

Later in the day I went to visit the vets. Every single minute the door to the practice flew open with people bringing in pets that they had found abandoned and badly injured by the fires.

Ricky at the aid centre
Ricky at the aid centre
Dogs and cats were having their paws cleaned and then bandaged up. As the day went on some of the vets managed to reunite the pets with their rightful owners.

At the end of the day, along with producer Kirsti and Darryl the cameraman, we headed to the village of St Andrews, a place that's been totally gutted by the bush fires.

The police had to escort us into the area as it's still quite a dangerous place to drive through.

Even worse

As I looked out my window I could see burnt out black trees, acres of land still smoking away and even kangaroos drinking from the local reservoirs.

Looking at the damage
Looking at the damage
The further we drove up the mountain the worse the picture became. I passed a number of houses that had been burnt to the ground, some of them were completely unrecognisable.

Tonight, lots of families are still having to live in sheltered accommodation, that is until they get the chance to rebuild their homes and their lives once again."

11 February

"Today has been a very long day.

I finally landed in Melbourne, Australia after travelling for almost 24 hours with producer Kirsti and cameraman Darryl.

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Koala rescued from Oz fires

After travelling halfway around the world with lots of camera equipment we got straight to work to see how the Australian bush fires are affecting peoples lives.

The weather in Melbourne is a lot cooler than it had been previously. Last week some of the locals told me how temperatures reached 46 degrees Celsius, but today the temperature is much lower.

The wind is still pretty strong, so experts say some of the fires are still really difficult to put out.

I spoke to two volunteer firemen who work in the Northern part of Victoria. That's the state where many bush fires have devastated people's homes and lives.

More hot weather

PRESS PACK
Fires in Australia
Tim and BJ told me how they've been working flat out since last Saturday, desperately trying to put out the blazes. They are worried that more hot weather this weekend will start some of the fires burning again.

Tomorrow I am off to a rescue centre to see where lots of children and families have ended up after losing their homes in the fires.

Many people are having to sleep in tents while they wait for help to reach them. It's going to take a long time for these people to get their lives back on track."

Ricky