David Jeffery, one of the “faces of Mallacoota” in recent bushfire coverage, is talking to Eternity amid the wreckage of his home town in the East Gippsland region of Victoria. But as neighbours drop by, whom he hasn’t seen since their world “turned black” a week ago, his voice is bursting with relief – and hope.

“Forget about doom and gloom – there’s too many great stories,” says Jeffery, referring to the “miraculous events” that spared the lives of many in Mallacoota, including Jeffery and his neighbours. While he is truly devastated for those who lost lives or homes in his small beach town of only 1000, Jeffery is just blown away by all who were saved – including thousands of visiting holiday makers.

Jeffery, owner of the Wave Oasis B&B in Mallacoota, became the international face of Australia’s bushfire crisis after being featured on BBC News and SkyNews, as well as the ABC, on January 1. Footage of Jeffery describing the narrow escape from the firewall bearing down from Mallacoota wharf, where thousands of people huddled for safety, has been shared all over the world.

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