Unprecedented heat and two months without significant rainfall have left the region vulnerable to the firestorms at the height of the southern summer.
Some of the most devastating blazes have blackened the southern island state of Tasmania.
Its most destructive wildfire in 45 years destroyed more than 130 homes around the town of Dunalley, east of Hobart.
The image to the right of Tasmania was taken two days after the Dunalley conflagration and shows plumes of smoke from lingering blazes around the community, as well as from other blazes across the island.
The visible light image was captured at midday on January 6, 2013, by NASA’s Terra satellite.
It also shows that prevailing winds from the west were blowing most of the smoke eastward over the Tasman Sea.
A fresh round of intense heat was predicted to return to much of southeastern Australia on January 17.
Temperatures were predicted to soar to a record 86 degrees Fahrenheit around Hobart, which is considered extremely hot for such a southern location. The average high is only 72 degrees.
Image and further details: NASA