CATHERINE Hill Bay’s narrow escape from out-of-control statewide bushfires in October was nothing short of a miracle.
The historic seaside town was evacuated on October 17, and as fires ripped through its surrounds, word got out that buildings had burnt to the ground.
Wallarah House, the Jetty Master’s Cottage and dozens of sheds were swallowed by the blaze, but residents still had a reason to celebrate, as more than 100 homes were saved.
Last weekend, the Catherine Hill Bay Bowling Club helped residents to celebrate and honour its saviours, holding a bushfire fund-raiser for the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) on Sunday to say thank you to the crews that saved the town.
There was live music, raffles, family entertainment and a barbecue supplied by the Swansea Lions.
The club was still counting donations as The Star went to print, but had surpassed its $12,000 goal.
All proceeds went to the RFS, which will use the money to buy vital equipment.
Club secretary Lyn Hall said she was grateful for the firefighters that helped Catherine Hill Bay survive relatively unscathed.
‘‘Brave isn’t the right word, because they don’t consider themselves that,’’ Mrs Hall said.
‘‘They’re so selfless. It wasn’t as if they went home, had a good night’s sleep and came back to do an eight-hour shift. They just kept working.’’
The well-known Catho Pub, rumoured to have burnt down during the fires, also escaped with nothing but a few holes in its umbrellas from burning embers.
Managers Dean and Terry Beevor held an entertainment-filled bushfire fund-raiser last Saturday as part of a public appeal.
The pub donated 10 per cent of its profits from the day to the appeal.