It's been well over 12 months since the Pauling family lost everything on two properties in Quaama and Yowrie in the Bega Valley on the Far-South-Coast.
But for grandmother of six Chris Pauling, it feels like only a couple of months have passed since New Year's Eve 2019 when they almost lost their lives to the Badja Fire.
It was a fire that swept through the area at such speed that the family got stuck on both properties, sheltering under furniture and appliances from the flames.
Chris, her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law Jessica Gravener only narrowly escaped the flames thanks to RFS firefighters Nathan Barnden and John Gallagher, who this week received bravery awards for their heroic rescues that night.
Her husband Alan and her son Troy also only just escaped on the Yowrie property, both with injuries and burns.
To make matters worse, Chris said the family were then evacuated again only two weeks' later when fires hit Bermagui and Wallaga Lake.
"Jessica had secured a rental in Wallaga Lake and we were all staying there with the kids. Moments after we arrived there was a fireman at the door saying we had to leave.
"We were already all on edge and hyper alert," said Ms Pauling.
The family took shelter on one of the inlets at Bermagui and stayed on the beach all night until the fires passed.
"I texted Nathan that night and he said he was keeping an eye out for us and that we would be okay on the beach. A fighter jet went past and my granddaughter Kesha asked if that was Nathan.
"We trusted his opinion and felt safer knowing that he felt it was safe where we were on the beach."
Ms Pauling said the months have just flown by for her and her family since the ordeal.
"I've just been trying to hold on to everyone. I'm hesitant about talking in front of the kids about things, it's something that is really hard to approach and the year went by really fast for them too."
With three of her grandchildren living in Shellharbour near Wollongong, she said it was hard for them to connect to their peers about what it was truly like that summer evening when their lives hung in the balance.
"Things come out now that we didn't know of at the time, like my granddaughter Charli-Rose woke up and saw fire on the mountain and my grandson Logan was in my bedroom when he saw the flames approaching the house," said Ms Pauling.
To make matters worse, two of the boys have had badly broken bones in the past three months and Ms Pauling said the youngest Logan, who is still in primary school, has been carrying the burden of his injuries and his trauma at the same time.
"His school is all enclosed by fencing and the gates are electronic and they are also doing hazard burn offs in the Illawarra.
"He comes out on to the playground and it's covered in smoke and he can't run because he's only just got the moonboot off so he's planned his whole escape: what he'd use to get over the fence, how he'd get him and his friends to safety if the fire came close. He feels trapped there and it's just so scary for them.
"Now that they've lived through it, they know how bad things can get," she said.
"It's been really hard for those children, they are all out of the area."
Chris also reported increased anxiety around the sight of the sunset over the mountains that replicated flames in the distance and the smell of smoke in the Valley during hazard reduction burn offs as a very visceral trigger.
For the grandparents, the burden seems almost too much to carry - "The bucket is very full for us," said Chris - but they've kept positive knowing that their family is still together.
Like many in the area have noted, it was very difficult for the Pauling family to retell their story over and over again to access services after the fires and their insurance.
She remembers feeling lost in the system but is also very thankful for the support she did get.
And despite the fact that Chris and Alan are still living in a shed on the concrete slab where their garage used to be and in a caravan, Chris said she felt lucky she was safe and at least had a secure building.
"It's just one room, with a bed and a bench and a cupboard. I also have an electric frypan, a fridge, a toilet and a shower."
She said that for her son Troy is still living with very rudimentary facilities in a shed, including a hole over the septic tank for a toilet.
He has been rebuilding their property while the kids live with their mother in Wallaga Lake. They are thankful they have been able to secure a rental so the extended family often find themselves gathered together there.
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"We thought we were a very close family before and would come together on the weekends but now we are together even more.
"Every spare minute my family is together. Family time is so important.
"I really take it to heart how blessed I am, I look over my really green paddock full of kangaroos every afternoon and I have all my grandchildren."
Chris is also happy the from the fires has grown an incredibly tight-knit community.
"I've lived in Quaama since 1996 and I didn't have a lot of names for many of the faces or how close they were to us, so from something bad comes something good.
"I've heard stories that just broke my heart and they same the same about my story," said Chris.