Mallacoota residents have spent the past year slowly recovering from the Black Summer bushfires which have been been burned into their memories forever.
Thousands were forced to flee their homes in the small town in Victoria’s east on New Year’s Eve last year as the sky turned an apocalyptic red.
A bushfire, caused by a lightning strike three days earlier was fast encroaching on the seaside town that had been packed with holidaymakers and homeowners for the Christmas period.
Residents had spent the past few days anxiously waiting and watching as flames began to surround them after being told it was too dangerous to leave.
But on the morning of New Year’s Eve conditions turned deadly.
Allison Marion’s photo of her son Finn fleeing the advancing bushfires in the seaside town of Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east in 2019 has become a symbol of the bushfire crisis
Residents were pictured on the wharf at Mallacoota trying to escape the blazes, a completely different scene to 2020 where many are staying indoors to avoid COVID-19
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) were helping coordinate evacuation services during the bushfires, but are now helping with COVID responses
By 8am the sun had vanished and the only light being cast across the tourist town was coming from the ominous glow that was quickly moving towards them.
As thick smoke filled the air, a siren was let off, warning people to head to the water.
Residents at the foreshore were issued the grim warning to get under the water if the fire trucks activate their sirens.
A bushfire, caused by a lightning strike three days earlier, was fast encroaching on the seaside town that had been packed with holidaymakers and homeowners for the Christmas period
Thousands were forced to flee their homes the small town in Victoria’s east on New Year’s Eve last year as the sky turned an apocalyptic red
HMAS Choules’ Fast Recovery Craft embarks personnel in order to drop them ashore in Mallacoota, Victoria to meet local authorities in preparation to conduct the evacuation
‘We were bracing for the worst because, it was black,’ David Jeffrey told the BBC.
‘Like it should have been daylight and it was black like midnight. And we could hear the fire roaring.’
Some families had already started fleeing in aluminium powered boats as fire crews battled to keep the blaze at bay.
Hundreds could be seen sheltering together at Mallacoota wharf by the water’s edge.
The main road in the region had been closed off.
Mallacoota is slowly recovering from the devastating bushfires last New Year’s Eve (Pictured: Garth, 68, from Sale, poses for a photo at a caravan park)
People gather for a holiday break at the caravan park on December 29, 2020 in Mallacoota, Australia, almost one year after the devastating fire tore through the town
Holidaymakers are seen relaxing in Mallacoota (Pictured). The town usually swells by thousands for the Christmas period but Covid restrictions have hampered recovery
Holidaymakers appeared far more relaxed in Mallacoota this year, last year they were cowering in the water as a bushfire approached
Ashley, 25, (pictured) is in Mallacoota to run free sculpture workshops to support the community and small businesses
About 4,000 people were left stranded in the town for three days before being rescued by the Navy.
More than 120 structures in Mallacoota were destroyed in the fires, including at least 100 homes.
One year on, the town and its residents are still slowly recovering.
Tourists have been helping the town return to its former glory but Covid restrictions have made recovery difficult.
A handful of holidaymakers were seen in the town on Thursday, ready to ring in the New Year.
The van of a local man is painted with the words ‘Thank You CFA’ (pictured) on December 31, 2020 in Mallacoota
As holidaymakers enter the town they are greeted with a sign which reads: ‘We are Survivors of the Bushfires’ (pictured)
New Year’s Eve marks one year since bushfires swept through the township in regional Victoria, forcing residents and holidaymakers to shelter on the beach as they waited to be evacuated by Navy ships (Pictured: People visit an information point for the Country Fire Authority on Thursday)
Katie Symes, co-ordinator of the Mallacoota District of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, the pandemic had caused a ‘global pause’.
‘Perhaps there is an opportunity for us all to listen more deeply to Mother Nature and to truly value what is most precious and endangered,’ she told the New Daily.
‘Our natural environment and the sense of connection we share with it and to each other.
‘It is my hope that visitors will continue to visit our region in support of recovery with understanding and respect, and by treading lightly with us and the natural environment, as they journey through this special little corner of the world.’
Tourists have been helping the town return to its former glory but Covid restrictions have made recovery difficult (Pictured: Fishermen leaving Bastion Point, where the Navy ships evacueted people last year)
Josh, 38, poses for a photo at Bastion Beach on December 29, 2020 in Mallacoota, Australia. Josh is in town with his family to support the community and small businesses