Eighteen months on from the 2018 bushfire, the community of Tathra has been acknowledged for its resilience building initiatives in the wake of the tragedy.
Tathra Public School and the Tathra and Region Chamber of Commerce took home first place in the NSW Resilient Australia Awards in Sydney on Thursday morning, while the Tathra Firebirds and Bega Valley Shire Council were highly commended for their work.
For nearly 20 years the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience has awarded initiatives building community resilience to disasters and emergencies around Australia in the areas of community, business, local government, government, school and photography.
The Bega Valley's four finalists, who were also joined by Bega MP Andrew Constance, were the most from one region for any year in the award's history.
The school's principal Lisa Freedman said the award, which was for their published book When the Fire Met the Sea, came as a surprise.
"It was a cathartic experience for the children, which was the aim if the whole project," she said.
Pupils Maya-Rae Navarrete, who lost her family home in the bushfire, and Cooper Finnegan made the trip to Sydney to receive the award.
"Cooper wrote about the courageous firefighters, and told us the book allowed him to write honestly without talking face-to-face with someone. It allowed him to say he was scared without saying it out loud," Ms Freedman said.
Maya-Rae made the book's cover art, which Ms Freedman said led the tone for the rest of the book.
The Tathra and Region Chamber of Commerce were awarded for their Tathra-Sapphire Coast Tourism Resilience Project, and the Tathra Firebirds for their Creative Collaboration after Community Trauma project.
Mayor Kristy McBain said the ceremony provided an insight into resilience across the state, adding other regions are looking to use council's community recovery model which included a Mayoral Appeal Fund.
"From disaster comes resilience," she said.
"It was fantastic to be able to support everyone, and that there were so many different groups who have had a hand in the recovery since the fire."
Tathra and Region Chamber of Commerce president Carmen Risby thanked the project's administrators for for their "help and support".
"The Tathra business community had a tough year last year and some businesses still haven't recovered, but all the help and funding from Destination NSW and Sapphire Coast Destination Marketing really gave us the strength we needed to push through," Ms Risby said.
"The Tathra business chamber is a small but dynamic team of like minded business people who don't take no for an answer.
"We have one common goal and we pride our selves in our collective approach at building profitable partnerships.
"Our tag line has become 'Tathra... our nature shines in both environmental assets and our attitude'."