REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Doing whatever it takes in times likes these

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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.

Glenn Lavis and John Arronis from Tumbarumba. Photo: Emma Hillier

Glenn Lavis and John Arronis from Tumbarumba. Photo: Emma Hillier

Evacuees describe 'horrific sights' in the wake of Tumbarumba fire

On New Year's Eve, John Arronis watched the bushfire travel within a few kilometres of his Tumbarumba property.

"You could see it one paddock over, looking out the window we said, 'there it comes'," Mr Arronis recalls.

He was lucky then, and he is lucky now. His property survived that first onslaught and the devastating events of the weekend.

Similarly with Glenn Lavis, who has been a long-term resident and "man on the land" in Tumbarumba. But they still have not been saved from witnessing the horrors.

"I saw what no-one would want to see," Mr Lavis said, describing the graphic scene that confronted him on New Year's Day after the first fire had passed through.

"My neighbour's livestock were burnt, I went out to help them put them down. It's horrific, you don't want to witness that."

Now living indefinitely with friends and family in Wagga, the two men say their thoughts are constantly with those who stayed behind to save their town.

"The RFS and the town firefighters have done an exceptional job. With the cops, they haven't had a rest at all, and they've saved it. They're the heroes," Mr Arronis said.

READ MORE of Emma Horn's article, first published on Wagga's Daily Advertiser

How Cobargo pulled together after a firestorm on two fronts

Two types of storms have smashed through the tiny NSW Far South Coast town of Cobargo in the past week. One was the massive Badga Forest Road firestorm on New Year's Eve, which swept down through the outlying hills with two long, devouring firefronts in the early hours of the morning.

The blaze destroyed dozens of buildings in the historic village and claimed the lives of Patrick Salway, 29, and his 63-year-old father Robert.

The other was political, in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the controversial centrepiece. Mr Morrison's whistle-stop visit to the town, a media entourage in tow, for a facile photo opportunity while emotions still ran high and raw among the locals - many of whom had lost everything - made international news.

For a brief time, Cobargo became the face of the South Coast community's outrage, grief and anger.

READ MORE of Peter Brewer's article, first published in The Canberra Times, here.

No longer the lush Kangaroo Valley as you once may have known it. Photo: Adam McLean

No longer the lush Kangaroo Valley as you once may have known it. Photo: Adam McLean

Kangaroo Valley locals tell of horror and hope amid Currowan fire devastation

Kangaroo Valley locals tell of horror and hope amid Currowan fire devastation

In the eerie, smoke-filled calm of Kangaroo Valley's main street, there was little sign of the devastation caused when a fast-moving front of the giant Currowan fire burned through on Saturday.

On Monday morning, as a light mist of rain fell over the small town at the western edge of the Shoalhaven, Rural Fire Service crews used the cool weather to take a break in some of the cafes.

But just around the corner, slashed like a great black scar across the hills, there was a charred landscape of still-falling trees, dead wildlife and dozens of destroyed properties.

Early estimates put the number of houses lost in Kangaroo Valley at just five, but residents and crews who spent Monday driving around assessing damage guessed the true number could be up around 25 or 30.

The two main trunks - Bendeela and Jacks Corner Roads, and Mount Scanzi and Tallowa Dam Roads - which split off to the west along both sides of the Kangaroo River were worst hit.

There, you could hear intermittent cracks as large trees, weakened in the fire fell to the ground. Some, still glowing inside, were distributing a fine white ash through the air.

READ MORE of Kate McIlwain's article, first published on the Illawarra Mercury.

In other news across Australia ...