A group of suburban blocks near the main street in Malua Bay showed the utter destruction wrought by the inferno that roared through the town.
Houses lay in ruins and vast swathes of bushland were still smouldering after the bushfire tore through on Tuesday.
Five of seven townhouses on one Sylvan Street block were destroyed, the other two surviving seemingly from sheer luck.
Allen and Bess Holloway were not one of the lucky ones, their home of 19 years destroyed.
"Right until the last minute I thought it can't happen to us," Mr Holloway said.
He'd been out hosing things down, doing his best to prepare the home, until Mrs Holloway told him enough was enough and they had to leave. Their neighbour's homes had already caught alight.
Mr Holloway evacuated without his false teeth, his glasses and his various medications.
The couple didn't manage to bring much with them.
"You work hard all your life," Mr Holloway said, trailing off as he took in the rubble that was his home.
"We don't want to leave. We've loved it here."
"We're too old to start again," Mrs Holloway added.
While all the townhouses were insured through the strata, the couple expect a long wait to secure payouts and be able to rebuild.
They'd been staying with friends nearby, but Mr Holloway said "you can't expect people to put up with you long term".
Right across the road from the Holloways' destroyed home was the recently renovated Malua Bay Bowling Club, a place loved by many in the small community.
It was gutted, although one of the greens was untouched, while another was partly scorched.
"The boys will be out there playing, don't you worry," Mr Holloway said.
"You can't stop bowls!"
Malua Bay couple Philip Bull and Susan Magnay grappled with the thought of what they might have saved when evacuating their home before it was gutted in bushfire.
The couple had evacuated their townhouse on Tuesday after receiving a phone call from the Rural Fire Service at 6am telling them to leave.
Mr Bull took one look at the sky and knew they had to hurry. They left in half an hour.
"And we just decided to grab a few things and go, which is basically what we did," he said.
"Just a change of clothes, that's basically what we thought of."
They brought a laptop, some photographs and documents, but everything else stayed at the house.
"If we'd taken another half hour and thought a bit more... but you don't, you just have no idea," Mr Bull said.
"Hindsight is a great thing."
Mr Bull and Ms Magnay evacuated to Malua Bay's surf club, before they were told to move to the beach as fire approached.
"It must've been a couple of thousand people down there. And that was apocalyptic, I've never seen a sky like that, that was amazing," he said.
He could feel the heat of the fire radiating as it reached George Bass Drive near the beach.
"It was very, very frightening," he said.
They stayed the night at a house belonging to a couple from Sunshine Bay, who offered them shelter after they met at the surf club.
"It was all very limited because there wasn't any power, but they managed to fire up a barbecue and we had whatever remnant foods were in the fridge and freezer," Mr Bull said.
The couple hoped to leave the South Coast before conditions deteriorated again on Saturday. Mr Bull said they never wanted another experience with bushfire.
"It was kind of shattering, you don't really know what to think or to do, you're in a kind of limbo," he said.
"You have no idea what to do."