SASSAFRAS, once a little hamlet of 60 farms, to the west of Nowra and east of Nerriga, suffered terribly in the December 2019 South Coast bushfires.
A number of houses in the small village were destroyed, while historic buildings like the old post office and the old farmhouse on the road were also lost, changing the landscape forever.
Three hours later Sassafras was being inundated by smoke but the blaze was roaring its way to the coast, in particular Jerrawangla and Wandandian. And later in the day Sussex Inlet.
Despite the efforts of firefighters, supported by aircraft and heavy plant machinery, the fire impacted the village with disastrous consequences.
Author Robert (Bob) Snedden has been associated with Sassafras for almost 60 years and tells the village's story in Sassafras "The Parish of Sixty Farms" which has just undergone its third reprinting with some revisions.
"During December 2019 the remnant former village disappeared in the fury of the bushfires that swept through the region," Mr Snedden said.
"What was lost on that day at Sassafras, was the ambience created by remnants of its heritage, a heritage that gave the site of the former 'post town' and its surrounding landscape its individual character and soul."
With the loss of this heritage the history recorded in this book has a new significance.
"As a consequence of the fire, there is nothing left to observe, stir interest in the past of that area, and remind the visitor of the past significance of the area," he said.
Sassafras "The Parish of Sixty Farms" is an opportunity to share in the history of a way of life in the past century of one of eastern Australia's more colourful towns.
Mr Snedden has a passion for the area, and has developed a detailed appreciation, of its people, for its landscape and rich history from the original Aborigines to the later European settlers over 60 years of association.
The Parish of Sixty Farms is a history of the post town established at Sassafras Mountain in 1856.
This story begins with the Aborigines who occupied the coast and ranges of southern NSW for at least 19,000 years prior to the arrival of Europeans.
It traces the early regional exploration and the development of "Old Wool Road", built in 1840 to provide access from the inland district of Nerriga to the sea port at Jervis Bay.
Sassafras lies on a basalt cap surrounded by plateaux, deeply channelled by gorges and covered by swamps and forest, which, as Jim Sturgiss would refer to it, "separated us from the coastal strip where conditions of life were such that it amounted to a separate culture."
Yet, it boasted boarding houses, inns, a school, and a post office.
The forests supported several sawmills and the cleared lands and natural sedges provided winter relief for stock en route from the inland.
Around the turn of the century, the potential for mining and its location on the proposed inland railway line, Sassafras was nominated as a site for the federal capital.
"Sassafras was one of numerous village reserves which were established every 10-15 miles to service the needs of the hundreds of bullock teams which plied the roads," Mr Snedden said.
"In time the farming became limited due to the nature of the soils, and the mining ventures failed to attract investment.
"The advent of the motor vehicle meant the teams would disappear and the former post town slowly declined, returning to its peaceful bush setting."
Sassafras today consists of a cluster of small farms lying along the Wool Road (Main Road 92) which meanders its way along the Pigeon House Range through the scenic and culturally rich Morton National Park.
For years and until recently, surviving dwellings adjacent to the road, have stirred interest and curiosity of its past, a reflection of, and a reminder of a former Colonial and post Colonial Australian lifestyle.
"We have revised some of the text," he said.
"We have corrected a couple of dates, re year of births and deaths, changing the location of "Boro " to Lower Boro, which is fairly typical with histories as this.
"In time, new information / clarification appears and a reprinting is an appropriate time to bring things up to date."
The book is available from several outlets including Anne's Secondhand Bookshop in Nowra, Bushcraft Equipment in Wollongong, Boiled Lolly Braidwood and the Hotel Nerriga, Harbour Books Ulladulla, Newsagent Bawley Point or direct from the author.
The third includes new information and photographs.
Mr Snedded has also published Tianjara, the the previously untold story of the former artillery training area west of Nowra.