Farmer Forced To Sleep Under A Boat For Six Days After Bushfire Tore Through His Home
A farmer who was forced to sleep under a boat for six days after losing his house to a bushfire on the NSW South Coast is now focusing his energies on delivering fresh fish to friends on properties around Cobargo.
Col Jones bounds up the driveway of the rural property with an esky full of freshly-caught fish under his arm.
His mate Tim Salway lost more than most when the bushfire tore through Cobargo, including his father and brother.
The stock losses and property damage on his dairy farm will take years to recover.
The invisible scars may never heal.
But Jones also lost the lot when a fireball tore through his nearby farm on the NSW south coast.
"It came over the mountains like a freight train and I just had to grab my dog and get out of there," he told AAP.
"I left the tractor in the swamp, another four-wheel drive, horse, cattle, sheep, and I took off."
He returned to his property four days later.
"All the animals are still alive, there's nothing else, a letterbox and dog kennel, that's all that's left," Jones said.
"If we didn't burn the swamp off they'd all be dead, but they're all alive, every one of them."
His house and sheds were reduced to rubble in the blaze.
Boats laying on the ground -- things just exploded, trees just exploded -- it was just a war zone, like an atomic bomb went off.
Jones then took off about half an hour down the road to the boat ramp at Bermagui.
"I just stayed there, sleeping under the car and the boat for six days, until disaster relief (workers) came and got me and gave me some emergency accommodation," he said.
"I had sores all over me and everything, I hadn't had a shower for six days.
"I wouldn't use the water because you save the water for the firies, you know, and for the women and kids."
Jones eventually hopes to buy a new house in Bermagui and build a humpy on his charred land.
But right now, he is focused on delivering fish to a handful of friends around town.
"It's something different to eat, something fresh, you know?" Jones said.
"When they're ready, I'll take them out for a day of fishing as well."