After a Canberra family's dream holiday house was destroyed during the March 2018 bushfire, a father and son turned a personal tragedy into something inspirational.
I like their ability to mimic other animals and I also love their tail feathers.- Roland Cross
Public servant Paul Cross and his 12-year-old son Roland wrote and illustrated a book about their favourite Bega Valley resident - the lyrebird.
The story of the The Fox and the Lyrebird was written by Roland, and was inspired by the work of Dr. Seuss and a regular visitor to their now destroyed home on the Thompsons River Estate.
"The day before the fire I looked out the window and a big lyre bird was sitting there right next to the window pane next to me," Roland said.
Lyrebirds were comfortable at the Cross home, and the pair would often draw pictures from photographs they had taken in the backyard, however the birds had never been this comfortable.
"It was strange to us that would happen the day before the fire," Paul said.
After returning from a swim at Tathra Beach on March 18 to a "humongous amount of smoke", Roland said if his mother had decided to take her planned shower the family may have struggled to escape before the flames arrived.
They left for Canberra as quickly as they could, and it was three days before they discovered their home had been lost.
"We were in the forest with all these large trees and a hose wouldn't have saved us in that strong wind," Paul said.
"It was devastating to later see our mud brick cottage like that, but all the rain has given us some hope."
The family has returned to the town they love almost a dozen times in the year since the fire.
"It only feels like it has been a couple of months," Roland said.
"My friends were pretty surprised when I told them about our experience.
"It was really hard at the time."
The pair said their fascination with the lyrebird stems from the bird's unique abilities.
"I like their ability to mimic other animals and I also love their tail feathers," Roland said.
"We have them around Canberra but we never hear them or see them."
Paul said the bird's "unique, loud, clear and distinctive" call make them easy to locate in the bush.
"It's a series of unmistakable clicking noises, and it can get quite high pitched at times," he said.
"It's like a warble with a large range."