Two years ago, Sydney arts graduate Anika Craney moved to the small town of Cobargo in search of a more sustainable life on the land.
She found it in a two- by three-metre cabin, one of several dwellings perched on a property on the South Coast she shared with two friends, focusing on living with a lower carbon footprint.
“We were growing our own food, making our own soap and milk, killing our own meat; we had 30-year-old fruit trees,” Ms Craney, who works locally as a disability support worker and is a Rural Fire Service volunteer, said.
“We wanted to be farm people, hippies. We met at art school and wanted to live on the land, sustainable – sustainability is our passion, doing what we can to have a lower carbon footprint.”
Her tiny home and a number of the other dwellings on the site, including a brand new cabin, are now gone, lost to the massive Badja Forest Road fire that claimed the lives of father and son Robert and Patrick Salway, destroyed a number of homes in the town and which has burnt through more than 236,000 hectares so far.
She is the “fifth or sixth” person in her RFS brigade to have lost their homes.
“I’m hanging in there,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“We’ve still got people, still got community, that’s what keeps us good. I just saw my goats, I’m glad they’re alive,” she said.
Ms Craney was away with no phone reception as the blaze ripped through her town and burnt down her home.
In response, she said, “I loaded my car with donations – food, masks, water, and power – and headed down as soon as I could to get my uniform dirty.”
Since returning, she has yet to be deployed into the field.
“I’m ready though. [Other volunteers are] all a bit trashed. I’ve got energy. And anger. I’m angry that I wasn’t here to protect my home. You always think, ‘Could I have done more to prepare?'”
She isn’t sure what the future holds for her.
“I don’t know if I want to live on this land. Everything is so destroyed. We were on tanks so that’s all gone and we can’t live without water. How do you rebuild?”