Now those idyllic towns have been transformed into apocalyptic scenes as the nation’s devastating bushfires closed in with confirmation of at least two lives lost and other people unaccounted for. Homes have been razed to the ground and main streets destroyed.
Dramatic and heartbreaking before-and-after photos are also starting to emerge which reveal the true horror wrought by the blaze.
Cobargo – a village in southeast NSW with a population of just 776 people – is one of many Aussie towns affected by the fire crisis.
Robert Selway, 63, and his 29-year-old son Patrick died when they stayed behind to defend their Wandella home, close to Cobargo, from the Badja Forest Rd fire, police said.
Reportedly, Robert’s wife found their bodies when she returned to the property this morning.
Photos of Cobargo’s main street before and after the fires swept through the town show the extent of the damage, with social media users sharing snaps of the quaint and historic main street that has now been “completely destroyed”.
— 💧 Mad Fucking Witches (@MadFckingWitch) December 30, 2019
— Clayton Goode (@clayton_goode) December 31, 2019
Some of the most dramatic photos of the fires are coming from Mallacoota in Victoria, where the sky turned a dark red earlier this morning.
Up to 4000 people are currently trapped on a beach in Mallacoota as bushfires rage through the area.
The historic Genoa Bridge across the Genoa River in Victoria was built between 1926 and 1928.
On New Year’s Eve, it has been engulfed by flames.
— GippsNews (@GippsNews) December 31, 2019
The popular NSW South Coast area has also been seriously affected by the fires, with pictures shared on social media revealing an eerie, blackened sky as smoke enveloped the communities of Batemans Bay, Merimbula, Corrigans Beach and many other regions.
Homes are now believed to have been lost with tourists and locals alike fleeing to the beach in a bid to avoid the flames.
— James Morris (@james_rfs) December 22, 2019
Corrigans Beach just turned incredibly dark and red. Photo doesn’t do it justice. Terrifying. Not sure if we are even safe here (by the beach) anymore. The town of Batemans Bay, 20,000 people, is on fire. #NSWfires pic.twitter.com/83grVddl1s
— Ellie Morello (@elliebmorello) December 31, 2019
This is the view today compared to the same time last year where we’re staying in Merimbula with our in-laws for our summer holiday. We can hear firefighting helicopters landing at the airport below but cannot see a thing #NSWfires pic.twitter.com/2JqP2HbfTH
— Fiona Purcell (@FiPurcell) December 31, 2019