Trigger warning: This article contains a first-hand account of the summer bushfires.
A Buxton couple was left with nowhere to go as bushfires raged on Christmas Day.
Their experience was raised in a submission to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which was made public on the commission's website.
One December day, the couple didn't expect the fire to reach their property.
The husband walked up to the front gate, saw flames at the bottom of the street, ran down the driveway and called out to his wife.
He backed their four-wheel-drive up to the front door, threw their documents in the car and told his wife to jump in the car.
"When we drove out the gate the flames were about 40 metres from the car," the wife said in the submission.
"Our property was set up to fight the fire. Fire hoses, diesel generators, six water tanks and [a] swimming [pool].
"But me with a spinal disease, my husband judged that he could not fight the fire by himself. It was rolling fast so we escaped."
The inferno ripped through the property and destroyed the couple's house, seven sheds, six water tanks, a backhoe, a car, two carports, three shipping containers, farm machinery, tools, hydraulic hoist and the vegetable garden.
Tragically, the fire also claimed the chicken pens, duck pens, pig pens and sheep yards.
"All animals burnt alive," they said. "Then a hellish journey began."
The couple escaped the fire in Balmoral Park Road and drove into Buxton followed by Thirlmere.
The evacuation centres and motels were full. The couple didn't know what to do or where to go. After this, they drove to Narellan and finally booked into a motel.
"We met fellow bushfire refugees who told the same story. We were all lost at sea," they said.
"No contact with services... no ongoing updates or resourceful information. For two full days we knew nothing and had no support.
"We later learnt that those in evacuation services had food and clothing. We who had had to travel to the motel had little or nothing."
The couple spent two nights in the motel, then their insurance company moved them to Bowral for three weeks.
This turned out to be three days due to a misunderstanding with the booking.
The couple was evicted from their accommodation on Christmas Day.
They were moved to holiday home accommodation in Bowral for two weeks, followed by a granny flat in Buxton.
However the owner of the latter cancelled their booking at the last minute.
Community spirit prevailed and Buxton Community Garden members organised a granny flat for the couple at Pheasants Nest.
"They partially furnished the flat in six hours of public awareness," the couple said.
Almost a week later, the couple experienced additional stress.
Five days after the bushfire, the husband's mother died.
"We had to organise the funeral. We were homeless and [had] no clothes," she said.
The family continues to struggle with the financial restrictions of bringing a dead farm back to life.
Evacuation centre donations 'unsuitable' for couple
The couple, who lost everything during the bushfires, couldn't find suitable items at evacuation centres to get them back on their feet.
"My husband has a renal condition, which requires fresh food daily," the wife said.
"The recovery centre food donations was not suited to us. It consisted of fast food. There was little or no nutrition to be found."
The couple also found it difficult to find appropriate clothing.
"My husband and I had only our farm working clothes on our back and steel cap boots on our feet. It was an isolating and harrowing experience," the wife wrote.
"Clothes in the clothing pool were 'ratty' or too small, for example size eight and 10. Very little in size 14 for me. Obese individuals didn't stand a chance of finding any clothing. We had to visit the Salvation Army store."
The woman suggested vouchers in her Royal Commission submission to help fire-affected residents purchase suitable food, clothing, footwear, fuel and medicine costs.
The Royal Commission team is due to deliver its findings by October 28.
Lifeline has a dedicated 24-hour bushfire recovery support line: 13 HELP (13 43 57).