Rob Fraser stood in his front yard a little more than 12 months ago, clutching a soaking towel and preparing to make, if necessary, a potentially lifesaving plunge into a nearby dam.
Flames from an inferno-sparked spot fire engulfing vast swathes of East Gippsland, Victoria danced near his Tambo Upper boutique cottage complex, north-east of Bairnsdale.
Much to the dismay of his wife, Jeannie, the dam was to be the last refuge for the 77-year-old if the fire got any closer.
Fortunately, it did not and the company lived to see another day.
But in January 2020, as the smoke began to disperse, Mr Fraser realized that his troubles were only just beginning.