Sussex Inlet is one of many small towns along our South Coast affected by fires in a way that will have a lasting impact on the local economy.
Rachel Pope, who grew up in Sussex Inlet and now splits her time between Canberra and the coast, issued an impassioned plea for visitors to return to the town via her blog, Spirit Quest Travel.
"The town really survives off summer tourism," she said. "My goal was to put Sussex back on the map, even if just one family decides to choose Sussex it supports our local people and the economy.
"If they don't get people coming through in the summer, the rest of the year can be a challenge. I am hoping the article could inspire people, and bring light to the fact humans are involved in this and they need help."
Rachel, 30, spent her childhood and teen years in Sussex before moving to Wollongong for university.
"[Sussex] is certainly home to me," she said.
She now works part-time in Canberra for Canteen as a programs officer supporting teenagers experiencing cancer, and part-time in her yoga business on the South Coast.
"And my blog, which is my passion, is to share writing with people, to share how incredible our country and world is," she said.
Penning the article was Rachel's way of supporting her home town. "If I was a tradie, I'd be down there building, but this is my way of helping," she said.
In the week since she published the article, Rachel said she had been filled with emotion as she received messages of hope and support.
"The people are amazing - community spirit is alive and supportive and nurturing. They are survivors, both literally and figuratively. They will bounce back, but they need our support," she said.
"The article has given them hope. People who hadn't even heard of Sussex Inlet have been saying they will definitely visit.
"That's been the most beautiful moment of this, when locals have read it and had hope, and can see they haven't been forgotten."
She said the same went for all the South Coast villages. "I wish I could write an article for them all," she said.
For anyone inspired to take a trip and help one of our small towns, Rachel encouraged them to be considerate, mindful travellers. "Remember what people have gone through."
You can read Rachel's article on Spirit Quest Travel here.