As Elle Moyle tried to keep 150 wedding guests calm in a locked-down stable as bushfires ravaged her family farm, she wondered what the fate of her horses, house, livestock and property would be when the doors were opened.
The Moyles' Gazette property, home of the well-respected Pathfinder Angus stud, was in the direct line of the devastating St Patrick's Day bushfire, and claimed one house, 30 kilometres of fencing, shedding, hay and some livestock.
As the fires were burning, a wedding was underway in the stunning bluestone stables. Ms Moyle and her mum stayed inside the stable, trying to keep guests calm while her brothers and father fought to save the stately homestead and prize-winning livestock.
She said it was a wedding the bride and groom would never forget.
"It was a horrible situation no-one could have helped but they were really great," she said. "The next day they brought out a heap of food for everyone."
She said the farm continued to rebuild.
"The first week was fairly chaotic trying to keep the spot fires out and preventing more damage," Ms Moyle said.
"The weeks after that you go back to reality and it does sink in when there is a lot of things to do."
She said the family felt lucky that only "a small percentage (of livestock) were burnt".
"We had good fencing contractors that were able to come in straight away and put them back up," she said.
"Friends and family and the community were great at taking down the burnt fences. The community really rallied well around everyone. It was very important in getting people back on their feet."
Ms Moyle's brother Harry said he was "shocked" after his house burnt down.
"I'm a lot better now than that night," he said. "We will rebuild the house."
Harry only had the clothes on his back left, and Warrnambool RB Sellars donated him $1000 worth of new gear.
On Father's Day last year the family planted a maple tree on the site where Harry's house once stood. The family has also invested in a new ex-CFA truck.
"We always had a fire-fighting unit, but this offers a bit of extra security and insurance," she said. "We already have a sprinkler system that surrounds the homestead. We had business continuity insurance which was very important. We've always had a fire plan and we keep that up to date. Mum and I have joined the CFA as well."
- If you or someone you know needs help or support, call Lifeline's 24/7 national telephone helpline service on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. Good resources are also available at RUOK: https://www.ruok.org.au
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.