In the eerie, smoke-filled calm of Kangaroo Valley's main street, there was little sign of the devastation caused when a fast-moving front of the giant Currowan fire burned through on Saturday.
On Monday morning, as a light mist of rain fell over the small town at the western edge of the Shoalhaven, Rural Fire Service crews used the cool weather to take a break in some of the cafes.
But just around the corner, slashed like a great black scar across the hills, there was a charred landscape of still-falling trees, dead wildlife and dozens of destroyed properties.
Early estimates put the number of houses lost in Kangaroo Valley at just five, but residents and crews who spent Monday driving around assessing damage guessed the true number could be up around 25 or 30.
The two main trunks - Bendeela and Jacks Corner Roads, and Mount Scanzi and Tallowa Dam Roads - which split off to the west along both sides of the Kangaroo River were worst hit.
There, you could hear intermittent cracks as large trees, weakened in the fire fell to the ground. Some, still glowing inside, were distributing a fine white ash through the air.
Among the property losses were parts of the Glengarry Campus of Scots College and the popular wedding venue the Kangaroo Valley Bush Retreat.
Announcing the venue had been "severely damaged in the bush fire disaster" the owners said they were devastated.
"All of our staff, guests and suppliers are safe and we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the Fire & Rescue, NSW Rural Fire Service and emergency services who worked with us to evacuate and tried so hard to protect our beautiful retreat.
"There will unfortunately be no weddings hosted here for the moment and we will make further announcements as soon as we are in a position to do so."
Elsewhere, wary residents returned on Monday to pick over what was left of their homes, sifting bits of crockery and art works from twisted piles of corrugated iron.
Most, while happy to talk, were worried about looters and 'disaster tourism' so didn't want to be quoted or photographed with their homes.
They spoke of luck or loss, their months of bushfire preparation, and shared stories about those who stayed to watch the fire burn and those who had returned to find their homes in ruin.
"We'll just have to rebuild, I don't know where to start - we're just trying to salvage anything, like the crockery here that's all chipped and broken," one women said.
It's like an atomic bomb went through. Plants and animals here have been vapourised. There are 22 kangaroos in that truck and that's about half of them - this is rendered kangaroo fat on my hands.Mark Lloyd-Jones
Her neighbours, who lost their sheds and caravans but not their home, wanted others to learn from this bushfire disaster what it means to be truly prepared.
"We spent six months clearing the under growth, we made shutters for windows, we sealed all the windows and doors, we were really prepared - but not even prepared enough to stay and fight the fire."
At the end of one road a group of contractors were joking, and sometimes crying, while rebuilding a blackened fence, and finishing up the bleak task of gathering the dead bodies of dozens kangaroos from a rural estate.
Among them was Nowra man Mark Lloyd-Jones, who watched the fire come over on Saturday from inside the nearby house.
"We saw plumes of smoke building up from the south-west over the afternoon," he said.
"About 8pm, there were spot fires and it was pitch black, and then half an hour later it was blowing 100km/h with embers up to the size of a 50 cent coin blowing horizontally. The firestorm lasted about 40 minutes."
"The size of the fire was awesome, I was awe-struck, just absolutely amazed. The wall of fire was about 15 metres tall. You can see it at the top of the trees because all the leaves that are left are frozen in the direction of the wind.
"It's like an atomic bomb went through. Plants and animals here have been vapourised. There are 22 kangaroos in that truck and that's about half of them - this is rendered kangaroo fat on my hands."
Amid this horror, there are uplifting stories - about the community coming together and about properties being saved.
One of these comes from Belinda and Edward Allen, who managed to save their home and business Jacks Corner Retreat through a combination of preparation and sheer luck.
Due to start a 12-hour shift with the nearby Beaumont Rural Fire Service Brigade, Ed was hanging around Kangaroo Valley and intermittently checking his property's sprinkler system knowing there was a possibility fire would come through.
As the southerly hit and the fire flared up, he happened to notice that the bush at the back of his property had started to glow. He had seen a Fire and Rescue NSW strike team stationed down the road, so quickly drove out to ask for help.
"I said 'can I pinch one of your pumpers please'. By the time we got back, flames were at the top of the trees, so they called in another two pumpers and we saved the house," Mr Allen said.
I've been fighting this fire for weeks, and when I first started fighting it I was driving a 300km round trip to down near Batemans Bay. It's the same fire and now it's right here.Edward Allen
Before the fight to save his own house was over, he left to start his RFS shift, only to be sent back to Jacks Corner Road to try to save other properties.
"We feel a bit guilty actually to know that our house is ok," he said. "I'm just amazed. I've been fighting this fire for weeks, and when I first started fighting it I was driving a 300km round trip to down near Batemans Bay. It's the same fire and now it's right here."
Indeed, all Kangaroo Valley residents seem well aware that the Currowan fire is active, and that it's now not far away, dormant until the next hot, dry day - forecast this Friday.
But back in the village, Maddison Cobie and Michael Stahlhut have been trying to keep spirits high. The Maddison's In The Valley owners stayed open until late on Saturday night, to provide a refuge and hot drink for tired firefighters and have been offering free cups of coffee to any fire crews who come through.
On Monday, as a thunderclap sounded and decent rain started to fall, making the wisps of bushfire smoke rising through the black trees look more like low clouds, Maddison looked up and shouted to the sky: "Bring it on".