When the Kings Highway finally re-opened on Tuesday afternoon, it was a relief for both locals who travel the road every day, and those from far away hoping to get to the South Coast.
The highway connecting Braidwood and Batemans Bay has been closed for weeks as the Currowan and Clyde Mountain fires devastated the area.
Even once the fire had passed, burnt trees had to be removed, and guardrails and other roadside infrastructure needed to be replaced.
As the minutes ticked down to 2pm when the road was scheduled to be opened, the cars, trucks and utes waiting on the side of the road in Braidwood grew.
Lindsay Edsea and Mark Rose from Moruya work in metal roofing, travelling between their hometowns and Braidwood for their jobs.
The highway's closure has meant a decrease in work for the pair, and when there has been work, the commute has been significantly longer - more like a five hour round trip.
Bushfires have devastated our community and our landscape, and we're hurting.Eurobodalla mayor Liz Innes
With the news the road would be re-opened on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Edsea and Mr Rose waited on the edge of Braidwood to be able to head home, and were some of the first to move through.
Rod Donaldson was from much further afield - Beaudesert in Queensland.
He started the drive on Sunday night, heading to his friends' property in Bodalla to help with the clean up after they lost everything.
Mr Donaldson had been waiting an hour or so, he said.
It will be a welcome boost for businesses at the South Coast who have reportedly lost thousands of dollars in trade as the road is the main thoroughfare to and from Canberra.
Braidwood locals have been waiting a long time for the road to be re-opened. Brenda Vardanega, one of the owners of The Boiled Lolly on Wallace Street in Braidwood, had her fingers crossed the road opening would be good for business.
"We've been pretty quiet," she said.
"We'll be pleased to see the tourists back."
Ms Vardanega said her staff had fewer hours due to the drop in trade, but she was hoping that they could start to get back to normal soon.
Driving between Braidwood and Batemans Bay, the damage was plain to see. Black trunks were all that was left of many trees, and the beautiful ferns that once lined the way were just black stumps.
Significant work has been done to ensure the road is safe, including replacing burnt infrastructure. Some burnt signs and melted reflective plastic rails were still there as a sign of just how hot the fires were.
It was previously expected the highway could be closed until late-January or early February. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro indicated in late-December the highway could have been closed for at least a month.
Up to 70 transport workers a day have been working on reopening the stretch of road since Monday, January 6.
About 1200 hazardous trees have been removed on the 43-kilometre section of the highway. Also, 43 damaged guardrails and 500 cats eye reflector lights have been repaired.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance announced the re-opening on Tuesday morning. He said it was welcome news to locals.
"The Kings Highway is an essential route in and out of the South Coast and our number one priority remains ensuring the safety of the community and all involved in the recovery efforts," Mr Constance said.
Eurobodalla mayor Liz Innes said the highway re-opening would be a major boost for the area.
"Bushfires have devastated our community and our landscape, and we're hurting," Ms Innes said.
"Part of our recovery is the return of visitors and particularly our Canberra friends to help local businesses get back on their feet."
Conditions have eased at the major firegrounds on the South Coast. Both the Currowan and Clyde Mountain fires are "being controlled", according to the NSW RFS.
Further south, the Badja Forest and Werri Berri fires in the Bega Valley are also "being controlled". The Border Fire, burning near Eden, remains "out of control".
Rainfall of up to 50mm is forecast for south-east Australia this week.