REAL AUSTRALIA

Real emotions and reality from the fire grounds

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Australian Community Media has a team of journalists across the country working hard to bring you not just live coverage of the fires but an understanding about the impact on people in their communities. As a nation we are a long way off the recovery stage, this crisis is still very real. These are the real experiences of real people.

The remains of my father's two-storey house in Conjola Park, with the Mazda intact beside the driveway.

The remains of my father's two-storey house in Conjola Park, with the Mazda intact beside the driveway.

A lifetime of memories lost to the flames at Conjola Park

As twin fire balls roared through Conjola Park on the morning of New Year's Eve, two of my father's neighbours tried to save his house by putting out spot fires with bottles of Coke.

But their efforts were in vain, and the two-storey house, packed with family history and momentos of a lifetime of travel and reading and music, collapsed into a blackened pile of bricks and ash.

The oven in the upstairs kitchen ended up where the ground-floor piano had stood, in a room where my stepmother, Cecily, gave music lessons.

The family tree my historian father, Roger, had spent countless hours researching. Gone. His half-written family memoir. Gone. The sewing box my carpenter grandfather had made for my grandmother. Gone.

Cecily's precious crystal cabinet, stacked with her grandparents' wedding presents from 1917; the manuscript of a book she had written on music theory; my dad's collection of a thousand or so detective novels; the landscapes he had painted; countless old family photographs; a much-loved 19th century chair. All gone.

The evacuation at Mallacoota. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

The evacuation at Mallacoota. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Weariness and worry in the faces of Mallacoota's displaced

A mother holds her young daughter amid the crowd of stranded tourists and locals at Mallacoota, her face a picture of weariness and worry.

She is agonising over whether to put her child on the HMAS Choules, which took nearly 1000 people off the beaches of Mallacoota on Friday.

As the heat of fire burns down and the smoke clears to reveal the damage to towns and villages along the east coast, the picture emerging is one of mass displacement.

The story in recent days has been told in the tired faces of those who have been sleeping in evacuation centres, town halls, on couches and in tents, without power, without phones, far from the comforts of home and normality.

Photojournalist Rachel Mounsey is one of around 400 people remaining in her fire-ravaged hometown, which has become an enduring symbol of a fire season like none we've seen before.

Hopes of rebuilding after Selwyn Snow Resort destroyed by bushfire.

Hopes of rebuilding after Selwyn Snow Resort destroyed by bushfire.

Hopes of rebuilding after Selwyn Snow Resort

In the face of devastation, Selwyn Snow Resort owners are determined to return the popular winter destination to its former glory only a couple days after the ordeal.

The resort is just one of the many homes, businesses and property that could not escape the destructive bushfire that ripped through the Snowy Valley communities at the weekend.

Although the resort "suffered extensive damage" to most of its buildings, group operations manager Andrew Dunkerley said the Blyton Group will "definitely" be committed to rebuilding the resort "even better than before".

Mr Dunkerley said the company will assess the full extent of the damage in the days to come as they are unsure if the chair lift and snow making equipment were still intact.

"It is too soon to tell (if the resort will be ready for snow season)," he said. "We haven't been able to access the site personally ... but in the coming days we will make a real assessment on what we are working with."

Mr Dunkerley said the community's support is "overwhelming" with offers of help flooding in through social media, phone calls and emails.

"The community are devastated, but have been very supportive," he said.

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