'Fires near me' was Australia's top search of 2019, Google reveals

(Image credit: Caio Resende / Pexels)

The data behind a country’s Google searches can reveal a lot about its people and current interests and concerns, and thanks to the release of the search giant's annual wrap-up of this year’s trends , we now know what Australians were most curious about in 2019.

Topping the list of trending search terms for 2019 was the phrase 'fires near me', a query that would show governmental and emergency information on any bushfires near the user’s current location.

With the unprecedented severity of the NSW bushfires, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many residents were repeatedly checking in on their current status. Google even implemented its disaster widgets in order to quickly display active alerts, relevant news, and a live map of affected areas.

Beyond bushfires, Aussies were mostly interested in sports and Marvel films, with the Rugby and Cricket World Cups taking second and third place respectively, and Avengers Endgame and its villian Thanos also making it into the top 10.

As for public figures, Aussies were the most keen to find out about YouTube makeup artist James Charles, followed by breakthrough musician Billie Eilish, while Greta Thunberg and Julian Assange also made the list.

Former cricketer and world number one women’s tennis star Ash Barty topped the local figure searches, with Fraser Anning and Israel Folau following up for all the wrong reasons. 

How, what, and why?

Australians were the most unsure about ‘how to vote’ in 2019, but were also curious as to ‘how to watch Game of Thrones’. More people searched ‘how to vote labor 2019’ than they did ‘how to vote liberal’, but apparently the answers they sought didn’t help.

‘Why is Madonna wearing an eye patch at Eurovision’ was apparently more important to Australians than the reason for the Amazon burning, closely followed by the country asking itself why Australia Day is on the 26th.

Directly reflecting the concerns of the year, Aussies were dying to know what Area 51 actually is, but also asked ‘what is Brexit’, ‘what is vaping’, ‘what is keto diet’, and ‘what is a boomer’.

It’s worth noting that Google doesn’t provide the search phrases with the highest search volume overall, but instead offers “the searches that had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2019 as compared to 2018” to better represent new trends.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.