Fresh from the heartbreak of finding her home burnt to the ground, Annika Safe looked desperately around her Bumbalong Valley property on Sunday morning.
Other than a few piles of bricks reaching about knee height, the house had been levelled. So too the garage, car port, shearing and machinery sheds. A caravan and children's swing set were about all that remained standing at the property known as Woodalla.
"I think I nearly vomited, and then my brain went completely numb," Ms Safe said of the moment she discovered what had become of the home she shared for almost three years with partner Stephen Littlehales and their two young children.
Despite the devastation surrounding her, Ms Safe said she had gone into "fix-it mode".
Distressed by the smell of dead animals, she searched for survivors and tried to make arrangements to have water, feed and burn cream brought to the property for them.
Ms Safe and her family evacuated from the Bumbalong Valley, between Michelago and Bredbo, in the early hours of Saturday morning as the Clear Range bushfire that eventually razed their home drew closer.
It was the third time Ms Safe had left under the threat of fire since New Year's Eve, but the first time Mr Littlehales had gone too.
"I can still picture the way the house looked when we left," Ms Safe said.
"It was a bit of a mess because we were trying to grab what we thought was important, but at the same time we probably didn't think this was going to happen.
"We kind of thought it was going to be a false alarm again."
They took their dogs and cat with them, but when the couple returned on Sunday morning, they discovered most of their other animals - including goats, ducks and chickens - had perished, while others were missing.
Ms Safe said it would be tough to break that news to their children, aged three and five. They had already tried to explain the loss of their home to the kids by incorporating it into a story, but the children's biggest concern had been the fate of their goats.
"At some stage we'll have to bring them out here so they know the things they've got with them are all they have left," Mr Littlehales said.
"That'll be a bridge to cross.
"I just can't believe how completely the house is gone.
"But [fires] are the reality of rural life, mate. Love it or hate it, this is what it is."
What is next for the couple remains unclear, with the outcome of their insurance claim to dictate where they end up.
But they are thankful for their lives and those of a group of neighbours who stayed behind to fight, and whom they feared dead at one stage after losing contact when the fire hit.
"We were pretty upset by the time we [got back in touch]," Ms Safe said.
A NSW Rural Fire Service spokesman said on Sunday the number of property losses in the area was not clear, but The Canberra Times saw at least two homes and dozens of sheds destroyed in the Bumbalong Valley.
While Ms Safe and Mr Littlehales lost just about everything, the news was better a short distance down the road.
On a property called Namadgi Run, Michelle O'Leary managed to save her home.
"It was just my partner and I, and [the fire] just roared through like a train," she said.
"I think what helped us save the house was that we got a grader break done the day before, but we've lost sheds, two caravans, a few old cars, and things like that.
"Even though we knew it was most likely going to happen, we weren't expecting it to come as fast as it did.
"I thought we still had at least half a day and the next thing it was coming up from the river and the hill, so it hit us on two fronts, and then went around the back of us just to tease us."
Ms O'Leary said she had five horses, two dogs and a cat on her property, and all had survived despite her partner having seen the animals run through flames at one point.
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Her neighbour, Laurence Cowie, was feeling optimistic after staying to defend his home, which he did successfully despite flames "six or eight feet high" charring just about the entire front section and ripping through sheds, stables and other equipment including his prized motorbike out the back.
"The worst of it was just the speed of the advance," he said.
His pets and horses were saved, but on Sunday morning he was still unsure of the precise impact the fire had on his cattle.
"It's the cattle that are my main concern because we've got no feed, no water infrastructure and fencing is questionable," Mr Cowie said.
"I don't know what to do with supporting the cattle when there's nothing to eat, and frankly, hay's almost unobtainable. If it is obtainable, it's unaffordable.
"I think we've got a few expenses looming on our horizon now.
"We might be able to get some hay to them by tomorrow, but today I think they'll just have to eat rocks. That's all that's left in the paddock.
"But [bouncing back] is a test. We'll give it a go."