It plays out every year: traffic snaking through South Coast villages, cars piled high as holidaymakers head home.
But this year this familiar scene is tinged with dread.
A fire threat like no other is forecast for Saturday; unbelievable in the wake of the multiple fast-moving fires which caused a devastating loss of life and property and forced thousands to take shelter at beaches on New Years Eve.
South of Batemans Bay is a "tourist leave zone" and officials in the Shoalhaven have also asked all visitors to stay away.
For those who can get out, a mass evacuation is underway, cars piled high, traffic at a standstill. In some areas, there's a police escort helping motorists navigate the smoke-filled roads where fire front threatens.
In others, the coast road is still closed, and those without enough fuel to drive inland to Cooma have no choice but to stay.
Alongside the traffic, people are pushing shopping trolleys of disaster supplies.
Power is still out in many areas, communications access is intermittent, supplies are running low, and fuel is unavailable in some places.
These are things we've never seen before. It is understandable to be scared, angry, frustrated.
But it's disheartening and unhelpful to see some people pointing the finger at those now caught up in this disaster.
In recent days, on social media coverage of the crisis, countless commentators have been saying things like: " Stupid idiots shouldn't have gone there in the first place" or "unfortunately there is no cure for stupid".
One woman wrote: "What makes me laugh about this situation they were told before the fires flared up not to go down the coast ... but did they listen noooooooo".
As if any of this is a laughing matter.
Yes, in many areas people were asked to stay away, and yes, the message is very clear that if you don't need to be in the region - or are not prepared with a strong bushfire survival plan - then you should make other arrangements.
Our emergency services are stretched enough as it is and have made it clear that extra tourists will only add to this strain.
But a few days ago, what happened on New Year's Eve seemed unimaginable, even in the worst case modelling published by the RFS.
A few days ago, vast stretches of the Far South Coast remained untouched by bushfire threat and - even according to the official messages - were open for tourists. Now these areas are blackened and smouldering.
And, we don't know the circumstances of those trying to get out. When they travelled to the coast, what led to their decision, what information they followed, whether they are tourists or actually residents, property owners, family members.
I know Wollongong residents who were in Conjola, trying to follow advice to prepare their own holiday house. They ended up in a firefight, watching as the properties next door were burnt to the ground.
Other friends are stuck in Moruya, staying since before Christmas at their childhood home with family, caught there with not enough fuel to get to Cooma which is the only way out for now.
I'm sure there are many more stories like this - and more difficult ones - because, for many Illawarra residents, the South Coast is our second home.
No one wants to be in this situation, maybe they wish they'd made different decisions, maybe they just did what they could at the time with the information they had.
In this hard time and with a bigger threat just ahead - if the only thing you can think of is to call people stupid and laugh that they shouldn't have put themselves in this situation, perhaps it would be best to say nothing at all.
Or, if you'd like to exercise some compassion, you could donate to the disaster relief effort which will help get the fire affected areas back on their feet once the threat has passed.