For the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time and travelled many kilometres gathering bushfire stories between Kangaroo Valley and Mallacoota. I've encountered, grief, relief, resilience and determination but the thing which has struck me most is the togetherness following in the footsteps of disaster.
During the great peril we all faced during summer, in places large and small, we rediscovered a sense of community. Neighbours who hadn't really struck up a conversation in years began to talk to each other again - to check they were all right or compare bushfire survival plans. The old defences that kept us apart seemed to crumble as we stared down a relentless series of fire emergencies.
In communties directly impacted by the fires, residents opened up relief centres that are still operating two months later. They're a source of much needed donations but their purpose has morphed into something else - places where people can gather, tell their stories, check on each other or just be together.
You hear similar stories from across the firegrounds about how magnificent the community has been through the immediate emergency, the aftermath and now the recovery.
People who lost their own homes were more concerned for their neighbours than for themselves. One woman whose home was destroyed in Quaama near Cobargo found herself in Canberra where her immediate concern was to get gloves, working boots and tools back down to her community.
In the tiny settlement of Kiah, down towards the Victorian border, the relief centre sits in a shed next to the store and service station.
A couple whose nearby home was burnt down had relocated to Eden but here they were, keeping the centre open weeks after the fire arrived. It was clear they were driving all this way each day to ensure members of their traumatised community had a place to gather.
We've all paid tribute to the efforts of our firefighters, the vast majority of whom are volunteers. I met one at a bridge west of Bega who had fought fires from Lismore all the way down to his own neighbourhood.
We should also thank those community members who stepped up and are still working to help their friends, neighbours and sometimes total strangers. They've kept us together through our darkest moments.