A North Elingamite family whose newly renovated property was razed in the St Patrick's Day inferno are looking forward to a fresh start in their new "forever home".
Tara-Lee Salau and partner Adam Rowe are rebuilding but not on the same spot as their old house. That part of their property is now for sale.
"We're selling the block off so we have nothing to do with it," Mr Rowe said. "So when we move out here it'll be like a whole new beginning."
"This is our forever home," Tara-Lee said.
The couple had almost finished renovating their old house when it burnt down. The kitchen had just gone in the week before the fire and they'd only been able to cook one meal in it.
They had spent the day of the fire in Melbourne ordering new flooring for the house that they’d moved into four months earlier, and were already in bed when the emergency app on Mr Rowe's phone started to beep.
When they saw the orange sky they fled. An hour later the house was gone.
It was like the world had come to an end. Everywhere we went was fires and people panicking. It was just a nightmareAdam Rowe
The fire had roared through their property to the edges of Lake Elingamite, but left the angling clubrooms near the water's edge untouched.
"It was like the world had come to an end. Everywhere we went was fires and people panicking. It was just a nightmare," he said.
Apart from a few blackened trees surrounding the property, Mr Rowe said you wouldn't know now a fire had been through the property.
He said they took everything that was burnt to the tip. The fire took the house and one tractor but left most of the machinery and cattle.
Mr Rowe has spent the past year replacing every single fence. BlazeAid helped with the boundary fence but he has done the rest, mostly by himself.
"It doesn't look like there's many fences here but when you actually start fencing here you're like 'this is going to go on for months', and it has. It's gone on for a year," he said.
"It's a lot of work. I never want to have to do it again."
The couple said they try not to think about the fires.
Their son, Oliver, who was with them on the night they fled the fire, was able to get some counselling at school.
Their other two children were staying with their grandmother that night, but for their eldest Zachary it has been traumatic.
Tara-Lee said that for Zachary, who has autism, it had "turned his world upside down".
"He's a creature of habit and he has to have routine and structure and when that's taken away, we've had a lot of issues trying to resettle him," she said.
"We had to get him used to Camperdown and we'll have to get him used to coming back out here."
The couple started to rebuild in December and hope to be in their new house by September. But building on a new part of their property has meant the couple has had the added cost of running in power and water.
"We didn't have to build here because we had power down there, but we just wanted to build up here because it's a fresh start away from the memories," Mr Rowe said.
The quote from Powercor to connect powerlines was $70,000, so Mr Rowe got someone else in to run the power underground from the dairy to the new site for a third of the price.
I haven't forgotten but I can't believe other people haven't forgotten nearly 12 months later.Tara-Lee Salau
Tara-Lee said the couple had been so busy that the past 12 months had flown by. She said she was touched that people haven't forgotten what they'd been through and had been offered vouchers in the lead-up to Christmas.
"I haven't forgotten but I can't believe other people haven't forgotten nearly 12 months later," she said.
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