An 11-year-old boy — whose photograph escaping the bushfires in a dinghy made the nation’s front pages — has described the apocalyptic moments that led to his family’s escape.
Allison Marion from Mallacoota took her sons Finn and Caleb and the family dog to safety by steering their boat out from Mallacoota Beach early in the morning when the blazes from erupting bushfires turned the region bright red.
Her son Finn Burns described the ordeal as “pretty scary”.
“When we left it just went pitch black and it was really, really windy. We were just worried about getting away from the fire and just being safe,” he said.
Ms Marion said she was proud of her boys for remaining calm in the face of catastrophe.
“Both my boys are little legends, they were very calm. Finn drove the boat and my other son looked after the dog in the boat and (I am) very proud of both of them,” she told ABC.
“We were lucky enough to be with a group of other people from Mallacoota and other families who assisted us and we followed them out to Goodwin Sands where we located for the day and there were a lot of Mallacoota people sheltering.”
Her image of Finn wearing a face mask and covered in a vest while driving the boat in red haze went viral on social media internationally.
Ms Marion said she took the photograph to record the crucial moment her family was witnessing.
The family has since returned to their street in Mallacoota and found that their home has been spared from devastation.
“Our street escaped the fire somehow, however, I feel for many people in our community who have lost their homes. It’s just truly saddening,” she said.
“I couldn’t thank those other families enough for letting us go with them out there and we’ve all sheltered together out there and our boys had some friends out there and we were all able to support each other,” she said.
It is believed up to 4000 people were seeking refuge on the beach in Mallacoota.
But the danger isn’t over, with temperatures expected to soar again on Saturday.
“Mallacoota is a special place to live and there’s very special people and I’m sure the community will come together,” Ms Marion said.
“I do think everyone still needs to be vigilant with the hotter weather coming — potentially the winds going back to the north.
“We certainly need to be vigilant and support each other and continue to look out for properties and lives. And I think that is the most important thing, that everybody is safe.”