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The faces and stories from beneath the red sky. A start to a new year Australia won't forget.

They are like scenes from a horror movie.

They’re stories that make the back of your neck prickle.

This it what the reality is for thousands of holidaymakers and locals on the NSW South Coast and Victorian Gippsland areas.

Most Australians right now are either in the midst of, waiting to hear from, or just thinking about those currently dealing with the Australian bushfire crisis.

This photo by Matt Abbott is one of the key haunting images from the last few days being broadcast internationally. It’s a picture that’s being used to tell the world that Australia is burning. 

We’ve compiled some of the stories from the region as the fight to save lives and homes continues.

Tracey and her family ran for their lives as fire licked its way up their holiday home. Post continue after video.

Video by Tracey Matchett
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Seven people have died in a matter of days.

A father and son were among them. They lost their lives at Cobargo, NSW, trying to defend their home on New Year’s Eve.

This is what the town looked like when it was engulfed by flames. For many, it’s the last inland pitstop after Bega on the Princes Highway, before heading east to the coast.

 

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The photo at the top was taken by me on November 18 in a little town called Cobargo, NSW Australia. The photo at the bottom was taken today. So many gorgeous little towns are threatened or have already burned during Australia’s unprecedented bush fire season. This town was filled with little gnome statues and just a short drive away we spotted an echidna (my first wild spotted echidna ever). I am so sad for all the people, the poor animals, the eucalypt forests and beautiful towns under threat or already harmed by these fires. ???? #australia #bushfires #nsw #nswbushfires #cobargo Bottom photo credit: Josh Mead https://aboutregional.com.au/multiple-fire-emergencies-engulf-south-coast/

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Patrick’s wife Renee wrote of her loss, “we are broken,” in a post on Facebook.

“I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will,” she told her community online.

A kangaroo sanctuary destroyed.

Wild 2 Free is a kangaroo sanctuary in the Mogo State Forest.

It’s run by Sayo and Rae, who met in Melbourne, and searched the entire coast of our country to find a place to start their charity and help animals in need.

They rehabilitate and release native animals back into the wild.

At 4am on New Year’s Eve, the sanctuary caught on fire.

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At 4am on NYE, I was woken to a raging wind and inferno. The Mogo State Forest was on fire. We tried to protect the property but we couldn’t. It wasn’t a bushfire. It was a raging apocalypse. There were no planes or fire trucks there to access or help us. By the time it reached the back of our property, our pictured neighbour Simon had already lost everything. We took shelter at the river and he was able to get his boat over to us and he got us to the only place we could be, in the centre of the water at Batemans Bay. We are safe with friends and Simon has been back. There is nothing left except miraculously, the little cottage. He is there with no power and no water. We are safe with communications back tonight, at Bawley Point staying with a friend. The inferno was so bad we probably would have died too from smoke inhalation if not fire. Given the intensity, we are unsure if any of the Roos survived. I wait for news and desperately hope that even one made it out alive. There was nowhere for them to flee. We will go on. We will rebuild. We will restore nature and then we will again care for kangaroos. They are the ONLY thing that matters to me. Many messages and missed calls. I will get to them as I can. #nyeabc #abcmyphoto #currowanfire #clydemountainfire #apocolypse

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“We tried to protect the property but we couldn’t. It wasn’t a bushfire. It was a raging apocalypse. There were no planes or fire trucks there to access or help us,” Rae wrote online, adding that if their neighbour Simon hadn’t saved them via boat they would have died from smoke inhalation if not flames.

Five kangaroos and one wallaby managed to survive.

Once the fires leave their region they won’t just be rebuilding their sanctuary, they’ll likely be inundated with injured, burnt animals that need their help. If you’d like to help them, you can donate here.

Fire also threatened the nearby Mogo Wildlife Park.

Photos from zookeeper Chad show how close they came to losing their animals.

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Around 400 homes have been lost, including that of Love Island 2018 winner Grant Crapp.

Love Island Australia winner Grant Crapp’s $770,000 home in Malua Bay, which he only bought in May, has been destroyed.

The 24-year-old electrician posted a video to Instagram showing the damage to the property.

He won Love Island 2018 alongside Tayla Damir and has posted photos of the possessions he shares with now girlfriend Lucy Cartwright that’ve all been turned to ash.

“Reality of the bushfires. Lost everything. Grateful that the people that matter are still with me,” he said on social media.

 

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Reality of the bushfires. Lost everything. Grateful that the people that matter are still with me ❤️

A post shared by GRANT CRAPP (@grant_crapp) on

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Tourists were forced to spring into action for locals.

Canberra based Paul was in Bateman’s Bay for New Year’s Eve, but instead of celebrating he and a mate helped to fight a bushfire threatening local oyster businesses.

“I now have even greater respect than I already did for the RFS who do this all day everyday for little to now reward. It’s absolutely insane how quick it spreads with the embers raining down everywhere and the lack of oxygen when your right next to the fire,” he wrote on Instagram.

“One of the scariest things I’ve witnessed,” he added.

Thankfully the oyster businesses were spared.

A Bachelor couple and a Sunrise host, among those thankful they weren’t closer.

Like many, Laura Byrne and Matty J were holidaying on the NSW South Coast when the bushfires came.

They were in Mollymook, just kilometres from where the real danger was. Like thousands they were without electricity or reception for days and are like the millions that are struggling to say the words “Happy New Year” amidst the ongoing tragedy.

“I wish this was a Happy belated New Year’s post, but after the devastation that has happened on the South Coast sadly it can’t be,” Laura wrote.

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“Thank you to all the firies and the volunteers – you are heroes. Driving back this morning we saw just a small snippet of all the homes and lives you have saved,” she added.

 

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I wish this was a Happy belated New Years post, but after the devastation that has happened on the South Coast sadly it can’t be. We have just spent the last few days with no electricity, no phone reception, breathing through thick smoke in Mollymook with all roads in and out of the area closed, and yet we are so immensely lucky. Just a few kilometres away from us there were families who lost everything. Thank you to all the firies and the volunteers – you are heroes. Driving back this morning we saw just a small snippet of all the homes and lives you have saved. Instead of saying “Happy New Years” I hope that you are safe, I hope you have a warm home filled with precious memories and you can kiss your loved ones goodnight tonight.

A post shared by Laura Byrne ???? (@ladyandacat) on

Sunrise host Samantha Armytage was also holidaying down the coast, posting on social media, “we’ve made it out of the South Coast fire zone & I’m feeling very excited for a shower, some electricity & telecommunications.

“More seriously, I’m feeling very thankful for my lot in life & very sad for those who’ve just lost lives, livestock & livelihoods.”

She posted a series of photos from Narooma where she was staying.

Sam instagram
Samantha Armytage was also down the coast. Image: Instagram.
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Tourists spent NYE on boats.

Hundreds spent New Year's Eve out on a boat on Mallacoota Inlet in Victoria. They were wrapped in towels, wore face masks and sat terrified, waiting.

A photo of a little boy in a boat made international headlines, as the true horror of the unfolding situation became known.

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Amy was also there, and described on Instagram what it was like.

"At 8am in the morning it was pitch black, like the dead of night. That's when we navigated our way to safety with water surrounding us. Once it lightened up, the sky shone fluorescent orange, then red, then slightly pink and then dusty orange," she wrote.

Thankfully, they were okay.

"I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m sitting in my perfect campsite where I have been able to wipe of the layer of ash from everything and it’s almost like nothing has happened. For the locals of this beautiful town though, it is devastation. I’ve been told about this thing called survivor's guilt and let me tell you, I’m feeling it. But it doesn’t help anyone so let’s shake that right off," she added.

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GOODBYE 2019 ???????? HELLO 2020! This is how we spent our New Years Eve. Bobbing around in a boat out on the Mallacoota Inlet, wrapped in towels, face masks on and in weather conditions that changed within seconds. At 8 in the morning, it was pitch black, like the dead of night, and that’s when we navigated our to safety with water surrounding us. Once it lightened up, the sky shone a fluorescent orange, then red, then slightly pink and then to a dusty orange/grey. It was scary to say the least. But I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I’m sitting in my perfect campsite where I have been able to wipe of the layer of ash from everything and it’s almost like nothing has happened. For the locals of this beautiful town though, it is devastation. I’ve been told about this thing called survivors guilt and let me tell you, I’m feeling it. But it doesn’t help anyone so let’s shake that right off. We weren’t affected by the fires, just temporarily displaced with a dash of thick smoke, ash and fear. This could have been a very different narrative if it weren’t for the heroic fire fighters who have travelled from all over Victoria to help preserve what they can of this tiny coastal town. Thank you to our wonderful fire fighters, let’s shout our praises indefinitely because this ain’t over yet! It’s going to be a very long summer! The roll over of decades hasn’t finished/started on the high we were all hoping for here in East Gippsland but this is the perfect opportunity for Miss “How You Start The Year Is How The Year Will Be” to be challenged. 2020 will be a year of resilience, being grateful for every.single.thing that life throws my way, remaining calm in the face of crisis, knowing that whenever I am with Ben, I am home and recognising that you can’t play God in your life or the lives of others. You can’t control what you can’t control. So, from a smokey, devastated Mallacoota, I wish you a Happy New Year full of happiness and moments that you can recognise as being opportunities for growth ???? climate change is real, friends. Let’s just hope the politicians take drastic action to prove that they too recognise this fact????????we’re waiting.

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On a beach north of Narooma, thousands more headed for the water.

They too were left stranded and terrified.

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For many, it was fear they'd never experienced.

Lou, who is in Narooma, described the experience of being amongst the bushfires as "the worst experience of my life."

"This photo looks photoshopped, but it's 100 percent real," she wrote next to a photo of a red and orange sky.

"Tomorrow will be the third accommodation that we leave because of fires," she added.

Instead of pictures of their holidays, people shared photos that are hard to comprehend.

Hundreds and hundreds of pictures that look like this.

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Locals and tourists are being forced to stockpile from supermarkets.

Queues for local IGAs and supermarkets are snaking around corners and it's turning into a humanitarian crisis because they're running out of produce.

Food supplies are running dangerously low.

Communication is still cut for tens of thousands. Everyone's instead waiting in line to call loved ones the old fashioned way.

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The traffic is also horrendous, as car loads of people use the minimal roads that are open to try and flee.

Aussiemumintraining and her young family woke up at 7:30am on New Year's Eve to a sky with no sun and on advice from the NSW fire app made the decision to evacuate their campsite.

"We stopped at the supermarket to get nappies for the kids and a few supplies where we found people stocking up on bread and water with tears, hugs and phone calls to loved ones. The fires had spread through the night further and quicker than anyone predicted and whole towns of people as well as holidayers had evacuated like us," she wrote online.

She kept the kids locked up in the camper away from the smoke which proved "impossible with a toddler."

 

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While all our friends and family where celebrating their new years in style we woke up at 7.30am to a sky with no sun and checking the nsw fire app we decided to leave our campsite and evacuate to the nearest town. We stopped at the supermarket to get nappies for the kids and a few supplies where we found people stocking up on bread and water with tear, hugs and phone calls to loved one. The fires had spread through the night further and quicker than anyone predicted and whole towns of people as well as holidayers had evacuated like us and the town of #narooma was spilling over with people. We found a place to park up and wait and get information. The sky was nothing but smoke and kept fluctuating from dark as night with a red glow and a weird bright and smokey yellow. Every now and then we would get rain that was black with ash and the air was thick with smoke and burt leaves blowing around. Keeping the kids locked up in the camper was hard work snd proved impossible for the toddler so we took it in turns walking him down to get information. By the mid morning the town had lost power, internet and phone reception. This picture was taken at 4pm when the sun should have been high in the sky. Luckily for us the roads opened this morning and after spending the whole day driving we are back near home safe and sound but many people still remain who have lost houses or cant get home due to road blocks or simply didnt have enough fuel for the drive with so many towns without power and no way to get petrol. Our thought go out to all those still without power, those who are stranded or have lost homes. We are also so grateful for the amazing #ruralfireservice for keeping us safe and all the volunteers and the #rotaryclub who fed us #australiaburns #nswfires #thankyoufirefighters #nswsouthcoast #notthenewyearsiimagined #newyearseve #endoftheworld #redsky #stranded #wearesafe #nofilter

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This is an example of what they're eating in the area.

Many aren't getting supplies quickly enough and are going hungry  - there are thousands to feed.

But families are trying to make it feel okay for the kids, some even tried to still celebrate the New Year - even if it was by candlelight.

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But for most, it's just been terrifying and confusing and hard to breathe through.

The conditions facing firefighters are what nightmares are made of.

The fires are unpredictable, even for those trained to fight them.

We've lost three firefighters so far this season, Andrew and Geoffrey were from the same brigade in Sydney and another, Samuel, died on the NSW-Victoria border.

This is what it's like in the thick of the firefront.

"Put the blanket up," you can hear one of the firefighters say, as the flames pass over them.

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But they're also managing to save some homes, amid the devastation and the close to 400 that've been reported lost.

This video shows how hard they're fighting, how close the flames have been coming.

 

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Thanks RFS! House saved.

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But they're exhausted, and aren't getting any reprieve.

And it's not over yet.

As thousands flee, and are evacuated, the entire area is bracing for conditions that they're being told will be worse than what they've just experienced.

Saturday, they'll likely see it happen all over again.

Feature image: Instagram.

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