“It’s an extremely indirect way for us. We have to go north, then northwest, and finally head south on the Hume,” Edwards said. But, after the wildfires turned the couple’s one-week vacation into three long weeks, at least it is an exit route.
Edwards had considered leaving Mallacoota before Tuesday. Around the New Year, the embers approached their camp and emergency sirens exploded. The retiree and his wife rushed up to their boat and were forced hundreds of meters from the coast for several hours.
“We were [otherwise] safe during the fire, they [emergency services] He said we were in the safe part of the caravan park near the beach, ”he said. The couple decided to stay and take care of their caravan, car and boat.
Melburnian partner Peter Nicolopolous, 66, who arrived two days after Christmas, also considered leaving, but wanted to stay and protect his boat and car.
“It is difficult to describe it … to see the dawn arrive, then, around 7:30 am, it begins to get darker more and more. Then, at 9 in the morning, you cannot see 5 meters in front of you, it is so dark “said Nicolopolous.
“No electricity, no lights, nothing. Just black and full of smoke.”
The immediate danger to Mallacoota has decreased over the past week. The main daily event for tourists became community gatherings in the afternoon, in which they repeatedly asked when they could go by road.
“Otherwise, I was just sitting,” Edwards said. “We hired a pair of DVDs. We went down to the boat port to see how things are unloaded from HMAS Choules and see how people evacuate. “
Despite the boredom, Mr. Edwards felt no relief from leaving the community that has become a second home.
“It’s sadness for the people. It really really affects me,” he said, holding back tears on Mallacoota’s phone.
Edwards said Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, who donated $ 70 million for the forest fire relief effort, spoke at a community meeting on Saturday about the optimism of rebuilding the city.
In addition to tourists who chose to stay in Mallacoota while others were evacuated by helicopter or Navy ship, Tuesday’s convoy included some Mallacoota residents.
Michael is a reporter for The Age.