Aussies Showing Incredible Kindness Amidst Tragedy
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed or damaged, four lives have been lost as bushfires continued to rage but among the destruction and devastation has been a wave of support and generosity.
When an emergency warning came through to leave the small town Nana Glen, north-west of Coffs Harbour on Tuesday, Teresa de Ruyter and neighbour Michelle Wilson didn't know if they would have a home to return to.
The town of just over 1,000 was left abandoned as a wall of flames threatened to destroy everything in their path.
The heroic efforts of firefighters saved the community hub, and thankful locals responded by opening up their homes and fridges to weary firies and locals affected by the blazes.
"Coffee! Showers! Tea!" De Ruyter and Wilson wrote on signs tied to a front yard fence.
"Place to rest! water in tank! Beer if you need!"
Their generosity was echoed by communities around NSW.
The Guru Nanak Gurudwara Turramurra Sikh Temple provided meals for hungry firefighters who managed to hold back a blaze burning metres from homes in Turramurra on Sydney's Upper North Shore on Wednesday.
The Hornsby Rural Fire Brigade took to Facebook to say a "huge thanks" for the hot curry, water, juice and soft drinks.
"Thank you for the amazing work you all do every day in protecting the community," a spokesperson for the temple responded.
"To all the firefighters and emergency services who are battling horrific conditions and fighting against these horrendous fires we thank you all," they said, before offering a place of shelter to anyone affected by the fires.
"The Sikh temple is open to all for shelter and food and we welcome all to visit".
A family have in northern NSW have been praised for a detailed sign they left for fire crews before they fled to safer ground.
"Hello, amazing firey's," the note read, explaining where they could access water and how much there was available.
"All people and animals are gone," it said. "Back door to [the] house [is] open, help yourself to food/drinks in the fridge".
"The house is the most important. If we lose the rest it doesn't matter.
"Thank you, you guys rock our world. Be safe," it ended, signed by Rach, Cam, Quincy and Dewi.
But it wasn't just those fleeing the fires that have left heartwarming messages.
One particular firefighter, Kale Hardie-Porter, who fought a ferocious blaze and helped save a man's home on the state's mid-north coast left a humble note for the owner on his kitchen bench.
"It was a pleasure to save your house. Sorry that we could not save your sheds. P.S. - we owe you some milk," the note read.
Paul Sefky thanked the firefighters on social media, saying the note was "the best on my kitchen bench since the morning after my wedding".
"Paul Sekfy you have made my day!" Hardie-Porter responded. "I'm happy to know that my note got to you in one piece (knowing that the house survived once we had to leave)".
"Our crew of 4 did the best we could with what we had but unfortunately your two sheds didn't last a second. We took refuge in your house for a moment and that's when we discovered the fridge".
Schoolchildren are offering their thanks to the firefighters putting their lives at risk to save the lives and homes of others.
Students at Banksia Road Primary School sent individual letters to the Rural Fire Service.
Many animal lovers have stepped up to help those that fled their habitats, many suffering injuries.
Christeen and Paul McLeod were among them, their home in Taree was turned into a makeshift burns unit and the couple treated at least 24 koalas at a time.
The pair are behind Koalas In Care and have been helping injured animals for close to three decades. Many of the admitted Koalas have suffered burns to their feet, hands and body.
"Koalas are the priority at the moment," Christeen told ABC's 7.30, explaining that they use a triage system to assess the animals.
"When it comes to fires, koalas are probably their own worst enemy," Paul told the program.
"Their natural instinct tells them to go to the top of the tree and that's where the heat is".
There are fears more than 300 have perished in the Port Macquarie Region alone.
So, to all the firies who helped protect homes, lives and entire communities, to those feeding the exhausted fire crews, to those who are saving injured wildlife and to those offering up their homes and businesses for shelter -- thank you.