As people around the world gathered to celebrate the end of 2019, 4000 people fled to the beach at Mallacoota, seeking refuge as fires engulfed the coastal town.
On New Year’s Day the pictures of the apocalyptic scenes and red skies quickly became an international symbol of the bushfires that ravaged Australia this summer.
By January 8 the evacuation was complete, and as many as 300 homes had been lost.
In the aftermath, with the destruction no longer on the front pages, the focus of the 1000 people who stayed behind switched to recovery.
Volunteers, residents and emergency service workers committed to remain in Mallacoota, for as long as it takes.
Minderoo Foundation visited the town to support those left on the ground.
We spoke with Jacquie Wilson, a member of the SES and one of the unassuming heroes working day and night to help rebuild the town.
Just before the fires, she had signed up to volunteer at the local op-shop.
She described her heartbreak at watching her fellow community members coming into the op-shop to replace everything they have lost.
Some of the residents who were evacuated began returning to Mallacoota on Monday January 20 as the enormity of the events that captured the world’s attention sunk in.
We applaud people like Jacquie, with their optimism and positive attitude. They are qualities that will serve communities like Mallacoota on their road to recovery.
Minderoo is mobilising and funding volunteers who can provide support on the ground.
Bushfire affected communities need helping hands from all over the country to move along the road to recovery.
Together with local and government agencies, Minderoo Foundation seeks to help regional towns and communities.