It rained a lot the weekend Country Fire Authority strike team members returned to Mallacoota - which seems very fitting for a journey intended to cleanse and heal.
The firefighters returned to the north-east Victorian town 12 months after risking their lives battling the ferocious blaze that decimated the area.
Leader of CFA strike team 1392 Ross Johnson said the unbelievable kindness and consideration of the Mallacoota community was much appreciated by the visiting crew members, who were hosted in the homes of residents.
"The foreshore was a four or five minute walk from where we were staying, and when I got down there I thought, 'oh my god, that's a lake and there are the sandbars!'" Mr Johnson said.
"Because when we were there at the fires, I thought the town was on the ocean not the lake, the visibility was so bad.
"It was very good to see the town in its normal glory and functioning as a town should.
"We were taken out on a cruise boat which was over 100 years old. It was absolutely pouring and the windows were so fogged up we couldn't see anything... but I was just so glad to be there," he said.
"We saw plenty of people, we attended a barbecue at the fire station, we had a pub meal, a restaurant meal and a home-cooked meal - you can't do much better than that!
"Our crew members hosts were absolutely brilliant and so good to us," Mr Johnson said.
Having endured five hard days fighting the fires during last year's Black Summer, Mr Johnson looked back on those horrendous moments as pivotal and life-changing.
"We risked our lives to help others, you can't undo that in your mind in a hurry... thoughts of what could have happened.
"It did us the world of good to see the town happy and safe, but I did not catch up with everyone and will have to revisit to see them," he said.
"I really hoped to meet the principal. The school is a really big ticket item, it makes a big difference to the kids to still have it to go to after what the town has been through.
"It was saved about four times. Fire got underneath the building because of mulch, it was a fairly significant thing we were able to save the school with two trucks," he said.
Mr Johnson said one of his primary charges, a critical task, was to ensure the industrial estate, which included the abalone processing facility, didn't burn down.
The intensity of the fire was such that the firefighters had shifted their focus back into town to protect lives.
"When we got back in the afternoon, the guts had burnt out of the abalone processing building," he said.
"I still didn't get my feed of abalone so I've got to come back again to do that.
"I plan to. Mallacoota is a very pretty place and I've been gobsmacked by the generosity of the community."