Mallacoota is better known for its tranquillity, with the seaside town perched on an estuary on Victoria's remote far-eastern coast surrounded by UNESCO-listed wilderness.
But in recent days, images projected to the world from inside Mallacoota have reflected anything but, with skies at times turned blood red from the fires ravaging the state.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has declared a state of disaster across most of the eastern half of the state, as the bushfire crisis threatens to worsen.
Two people have died in the region while 17 remain missing, as 50 fires continue to burn.
In Mallacoota, about 3000 tourists and 1000 locals remain stuck after roads were cut off as a fire tore through on New Year's Eve.
About 800 of the town's most vulnerable people are expected to evacuate from the region aboard Navy vessel HMAS Choules this morning.
Already, scores of livestock and homes have reportedly been lost across the region, but the full extent of the damage is yet to be assessed.
During the New Year's Eve inferno, flames knocked out some power, mobile and internet services, prompting grave concerns among residents, as well as family and friends outside of Mallacoota wishing to know the fate of those who remained.
But one resident - who asked to be called simply Brendan - kept the small Victorian town connected with the world via Twitter, live-tweeting local conditions.
Was just on air with BBC TV and then BBC 5 Live. Surprised and grateful at how much global interest there is in these Australia fires and #Mallacoota in particular. Have had interest from Canada, China, USA, Germany and others. Thank you for getting the story out.— Brendan (@brendanh_au) January 2, 2020
In recent days, Brendan's tweets have been shared by observers around the world, and he has garnered attention from international media, including the BBC.
"[It's] quite incredible. I never predicted quite a lot of global interest in this," Brendan told the ABC.
"It turns out that anyone who's been to Mallacoota or knows anyone who's been to Mallacoota has a Mallacoota story.
"Such a large number of people have such a special story about Mallacoota, and it's just resonated across the world."
'The best I could do was tell them what I was seeing'
A cursory scroll through Brendan's tweets from the evening reveals an hour-by-hour summary of the blaze from eyewitness located in the centre of town.
They include photos of the ominous skies, descriptions of the thick smoke blanketing the horizon and of the burning embers and leaves falling around him and rolling updates on the condition
of the town's critical infrastructure.
Mallacoota, usually a town of about 1k people, has two CFA vehicles for most of the year. Over the xmas holiday our pop swells to 10k. Our firies recognised this and the risk early and sent many additional vehicles. We believe at least 15 trucks protecting infra and campers— Brendan (@brendanh_au) December 30, 2019
He told the ABC he decided to live-tweet when he noticed that some Twitter users from overseas said they had lost contact with people staying at his camper park.
This, coupled with the town's Optus transmission tower going down during power outages, left him no choice, he said.
"There were people out there who wanted to know what was happening… the best I could do was tell them what I was seeing," he said.
His tweets garnered sizeable attention quickly, as information coming out of Mallacoota during the blaze was sparse.
Brendan said that at one point people began tweeting their addresses at him to figure out if their family and properties were OK.
"They felt some connection. They felt some level of comfort that they were understanding what was happening here in the absence of any other information," Brendan said.
'I was taking breaks 140 characters at a time'
Brendan described his experience over the past four days as "pretty incredible", with Twitter becoming a refuge for him between fighting fires.
"I never in any way put tweeting in front of fighting the fire, protecting lives or property," he said.
"I was taking breaks 140 characters at a time."
Still fighting bushfires in #mallacoota - situation critical near raheen and radley. Just caught a break in the wind. We’re controlling as best we can to save sister’s place. Tea trees are exploding infernos.— Brendan (@brendanh_au) December 31, 2019
Prior to the blaze, Brendan, along with a "multi-decade Country Fire Authority veteran" neighbour, anticipated that the dense bush surrounding Mallacoota would bring about a fire that would be "the real deal".
Mallacoota locals understand this as the inevitable and overdue outcome of living in the middle of a national park after many years of drought. Power outages are very common and many ppl equipped with generators. I feel for the visitors expecting a holiday. https://t.co/zXAThqRPGd— Brendan (@brendanh_au) December 30, 2019
Mallacoota is surrounded by the dense coastal wilderness of the Croajingolong National Park, a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve home to ancient forests and warm temperate rainforests.
Almost 1,000 native plant species and 315 animal species have been recorded within the park, according to UNESCO.
It's this uniqueness that Brendan said had led to his "pretty straightforward" decision to stay despite an evacuation order being placed for most of East Gippsland on Sunday.
"We're all attached to Mallacoota in a fairly strong way: My parents have lived here for over 10 years, my sister for five-and-a-bit with her kids," he said.
"We love this part of the world and we were expecting something like this to happen - we understand how remote and isolated we can be."
Presently, Brendan and his family are continuing to monitor local conditions but have not yet made a final decision on whether to leave the town.
This means that for now, residents and non-residents alike will have Brendan as one extra pair of eyes over Mallacoota as emergency services descend on the fire-stricken town.
"We love this place: We made major moves in our lives to live in Mallacoota and we want to see it recover again," he said.
"That's what's keeping us going."