Huddled on ashy sand, clutching a bag of clothes and a few photographs, the red glow of flames and angry billowing smoke on one side, the peaceful crash of ocean waves on the other.
It was the last way Rotorua-born Vanessa Lake imagined spending the final morning of the decade.
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But when the bush fires swept through her current home of Malua Bay in New South Wales on December 31 last year, Lake found herself stranded on the beach with the rest of the town - all before 11am.
More than 40 homes in the town were lost to the fires that have burned about 10 million hectares throughout Australia.
"I haven't said happy New Year to any of my neighbours yet. It doesn't feel right," she said.
On the morning of the evacuation, she set out early to take her dog for a walk before heading to work.
The dog was "acting strange" but it was not until she bumped into a neighbour that she heard of the evacuation order.
She dashed home to shake awake her two sons, Ryder, 18, and Caleb, 25, and husband Tony.
The family packed some clothes and precious photographs before watering down their property.
The sky overhead got "darker and redder" and the wind picked up before the power went out at about 7.50am.
"We kept on watering and all of a sudden, I started seeing hot embers landing in the back yard.
"I said to my hubby, 'Let's get out. It's just an effin house."
The family jumped in the car and drove to the evacuation point at the beach a few hundred metres down the road.
The whole town - hundreds of people with dogs, cats, horses and boxes of valued belongings - gathered on the beach as the flames came "lapping" to the beach.
"The hot embers were falling down all around. It was like a war zone."
"It felt like forever waiting down there ... then suddenly a southerly hit and pushed the fire back," she said.
Once it was safe, the family headed back to their address with bated breath.
"When we walked back we didn't expect to have a house," she said. "It was terror. It's such an unknown, the fire just does what it wants."
Aside from some spot fires in the garden, their property was untouched.
While the flames had retreated from the town, the tourist destination would be picking up the broken pieces for some time.
"There are businesses here that are going to struggle because they wait until this time of the year to make all of their money," she said.
"Usually we have an extra 80,000 people but there's just nobody here."
The family home still had no power, water or phone service, but "truckloads" of supplies were regularly being brought into the town and a transportable unit with shower, kitchen and washing facilities had been installed.
"It's like glamping without the glamour."
She also praised the work of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service volunteers.
"They dropped in, did what they needed to do and got out of there."