As Ballarat was busy uniting in its generosity and compassion towards those struggling with the bushfires, one man caught in Mallacoota went above and beyond to do his part to get the help where it was most needed.
Ballarat local Kelly Dubberley and his family are used to escaping to the idyllic refuge every second year over the holidays and enjoy the peace of the beach, but for obvious reasons things didn't go to plan this year.
Faced with blackened skies and falling embers, Mr Dubberley along with his wife, two sons and three dogs escaped and waited out the worst of the blaze in a single swag on a sand dune.
When the sun emerged again, the family ventured into the fire-ravaged town, immediately looking to help in any way they could.
While Mr Dubberley's wife volunteered at the medical centre, he and his sons took to Facebook to generate a groundswell of support for the battling town.
"When we went for a walk around town it set in just how much damage had been done," he said.
"My wife went to the medical centre to help as a volunteer and they welcomed her with open arms.
"Myself and the boys just tried to help out wherever we could... there wasn't a lot physically we could actually help with, so we kicked into gear in the way of trying to organise some donations."
Mr Dubberley quickly got in contact with Kiara Porra from PRDnationwide in Ballarat, who was already becoming inundated with donations from the community.
Through his connections by way of his Facebook friends, Mr Dubberley was able to connect Ms Porra with commercial fishermen ready to transport the donations to Mallacoota.
"(Kiara) had already received a heap of donations... pretty quickly some commercial fishermen from Port Welshpool and Port Franklin offered their boats to pick the supplies up and take it to Mallacoota."
Along with the literal boat load of donations coming into Mallacoota, Mr Dubberley was also using his social media platform to help out those in need.
One such example came when he overheard a young woman talking about how she had lost all her clothes in the fires.
"It was just terrible, this was a girl who had lost everything and needed some help," he said
Mr Dubberley reached out on Facebook for assistance, quickly receiving $250 dollars from a friend in New Zealand to give to the woman.
"She was ecstatic... she needed a hand and people were more than willing to help give her any assistance they could."
Another act of generosity came to be after talking to an older Mallacoota local at the pub.
He told Mr Dubberley this was the first Saturday he could remember being at the pub because usually each Saturday he plays golf. The man lost everything, including his golf clubs, in the fires.
Again in quick fashion, a Facebook friend at the Ballarat Golf Club came forward offering to donate new clubs to the man. The act of kindness nearly brought him to tears Mr Dubberley told The Courier.
"He was just blown away... to have someone go out of their way to help someone they'd never met was just amazing to see."
WATCH MR DUBBERLEY BREAK THE NEWS OF THE BALLARAT GOLF CLUB DONATION:
Always looking to assist the community, Mr Dubberley, who works for Barwon Water, called on his previous experience as a carpenter to help construct a baby koala habitat for the local wildlife shelter.
When asked if he was surprised by the generosity on display from his Facebook friends, Mr Dubberley said it came as no surprise to him.
"Not at all, I've got an amazing group of friends who are willing to stand up when people are in strife.
"When the sh*t hits the fan, people come together to clean it up."
On Sunday, after 22 days stuck in Mallacoota, the Dubberleys got their opportunity to leave.
Somewhat poetically, only minutes before the family departed, the boat full of donations, many of which were from Ballarat, came into view.
The moment made Mr Dubberley emotional about the time and effort he and his family had given to the town in need.
"I did get a little bit teary... it was like seeing something out of a movie to see it come steaming in. It just shows the generosity and selflessness of some people."
Now back in Ballarat, Mr Dubberley is eagerly looking forward to returning to Mallacoota in the future.
"We'll be back, there's absolutely no doubt about that. It's a great place full of great people."
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