More than one thousand people and their pets stranded at Mallacoota in Victoria's east have been bundled onto naval ships and taken to safety.
Two vessels were docked at the small coastal community to evacuate locals and tourists on Friday, ahead of worsening weekend bushfire conditions.
Almost 60 people set off on MV Sycamore early in the morning, bound for Stony Point, near Hastings at Western Port on the Mornington Peninsula.
About 1100 people later boarded HMAS Choules for a late afternoon departure. Roughly 250 pets including cats, dogs, a rabbit and a bird were also among the evacuees.
The coastal community was hit by fire on Tuesday morning, with about 4000 people forced to flee their homes and shelter at the beach. Ongoing fires meant they have been isolated there since.
HMAS Choules commander Scott Houlihan said people were "very thankful" for the chance to flee.
"It's a real atmosphere of appreciation," he told ABC Gippsland ahead of the ship's departure.
He said the way the town has rallied and prepared for the evacuation against the backdrop of widespread devastation is one of the most impressive things he has experienced.
"It has been quite an uplifting experience and really shows you the true human spirit," he said.
The Mallacoota evacuees will travel for about 20 hours, with an evacuation centre likely to be set up at the HMAS Cerberus naval base.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the evacuation has been a "big focus" for the federal government, with the military also tasked with helping people find shelter once they land.
"The ADF is also working now with the state government on setting up evacuation centres and providing accommodation - not a tent city, but at a number of those locations that are available," he told reporters in Bairnsdale.
Another area being considered for an evacuation centre is Bandiana near Wodonga on the NSW border.
About 2800 people have chosen to stay at Mallacoota, while 500 may be flown out once the local airport reopens.
The Mallacoota community had been receiving more than 12,000 litres of fuel a day to ensure the town centre was operational.
About two dozen firefighters had been ferried to the cut-off town from Lakes Entrance by Victorian Fisheries Authority vessels at 7am to relieve crews there.
Other isolated communities have also received additional supplies including water, Mr Morrison said.
Australian Associated Press
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