TV couple’s frantic bid to save ‘happy place’ from inferno
The past few weeks has seen nature's fury unleash around the state and country.
It's been eerie and confronting to watch and we've had a taste of what it feels like to be in the firing line.
We know and have always said there are so many worse off than us and that remains our overriding emotion. But the past few weeks have tested us and we feared we'd lose our happy place in the Lower Hunter Valley.
The cars remain packed with our valuables - photos, quirky items that mean so much to both of us.
The rugs knitted by my wife Chris's mum and nan, my granddad's cross country athletics award are also packed but that's it.
It's amazing when something like this happens what items really matter to you and I have to say not a lot!
On Thursday, we made the decision we needed to protect our property.
We had invested in fire trailers, roof sprinklers on the house and shed, fire hoses, pumps, generators and fire protective gear (helmets, gloves, goggles etc).
We knew we stood no chance if the mega fire, that's developed in the Hunter over the past 48 hours hit us, but thought we could fight the ember attacks and spot fires.
Our work and bosses were so supportive to give us the time off to try to protect the place that means so much to us.
Then there's our neighbours who've shown what community spirit is all about.
Like us, Chris who's just up the dirt road is relatively new to our country hood and has provided constant support and updates.
Mick the truck driver, who's been here for over 20 years, has given us advice over a bitterly cold frothie.
He also looks after the shared dirt road on his old Massey Ferguson so emergency vehicles have access when it hits the fan.
Then there's Brian and Barb up the mountain who've been here best part of four decades after they gave away city life.
They're in their 70s and we love their company.
Brian remains adamant he ain't going anywhere and will defend their home.
To our handyman/ mechanic guru Arthur who's taught us so much.
He dropped his work duties this week to fight the fires as a long time RFS volunteer.
Two nights ago, Arthur rang to tell us the fire he was fighting with his Wollombi crew was threatening his own home.
But he didn't blink an eyelid and was purely focused on saving lives and other properties.
That right there is a true community hero and made me so proud to be Australian and to call Arthur a mate.
And his wife Milly is a saint for letting Arthur join the amazing men and women in our emergency personnel as she looked after the family.
Right now the smoke remains heavy and the fires continue to burn around us.
We remain on alert and that won't change for the next few days and the scary thing is Summer has just begun.
We're pretty new to all this although Chris has covered countless bushfires through her media roles.
I had no clue so this has been a real eye opener.
Nature at its worst and I can't thank our neighbours for caring and offering support - true mateship.
And to the police, ambos, fire crews led by the RFS here, a huge thankyou for your tireless work in protecting us.
You're all true heroes who've worked round the clock in hostile and unpredictable conditions.
We are by no means out of the woods yet and it's going to be a tense few days and Summer ahead.
Hopefully the bird nerds are us farm and our happy place stays intact but we also know lives come first.
Our bushfire survival plan is now more important than ever as is listening to the experts.
To those impacted by the fires, our thoughts and to those continuing to fight the good fight thankyou.