High amenity areas in South East Australia are some of the world’s most vulnerable areas to bushfires. The combination of amenity attractiveness and increasing risk is placing large numbers of people in dangerous locations, particularly in peri-urban localities. Policy makers consistently have failed to use land use planning systems to prevent risk by limiting urban and rural-residential development in high amenity and bushfire prone areas. This paper relates the concepts of liveability, amenity and well-being to those of risk by investigating how risk and hazard can affect the vulnerability of peri-urban areas to bushfires. It argues that two principal factors are increasing historical levels of bushfire risk, firstly the expansion of settlement into peri-urban areas, and secondly, changing environmental conditions principally climate change. The paper examines two case studies, South Eastern Australia and California USA to illustrate the trend to increasing vulnerability. It examines the potential effectiveness of land use planning as a means of reducing risk and argues the need for anticipatory planning to prevent an expansion of settlement into bushfire prone areas.