Two months ago, Killalea Lagoon had turned into a cracked, black mud graveyard for fish and eels.
Almost all the water had disappeared, and pelicans stood in puddles and pecked at the dying animals as the effects of the drought began to wear across the Illawarra.
With dam levels dropping and water restrictions tightening in mid-December, parks, gardens and golf courses across Wollongong and Shellharbour turned to brown.
Even the colour of the escarpment seemed to shift as the fire season strengthened its grip on surrounding regions.
But now the Illawarra is in the midst of one of its wettest months on record after 44 per cent of the Nepean Catchment's yearly rain fell in less than a week.
The metropolitan dams are approaching 80 per cent full and the region's parks and gardens are full of new life (and lots of long grass).
And reeds and water birds are once again flourishing in the lush water of Killalea Lagoon.
The recent rainfall may have caused an arresting visual transformation, but the Bureau of Meteorology says south-eastern Australia remains at risk of heatwaves and bushfires well into autumn.
In its seasonal climate outlook, released late last week, the BOM said rainfall would be close to average for most of the southern half of Australia.
"However, below average rainfall is slightly more likely in the far east," the outlook said.
The forecast notes the heavy rainfall "has eased the dry in some areas", but says regions further inland require several months of above average rainfall to bring them out of drought.
According to BOM maps, the Illawarra could be in for above-average rain in the next week, however, at the end of February, it will be closer to average.
By March, there will be little chance of exceeding the median monthly rainfall (although March is usually the wettest month - so expect some rain) and April looks to be back to average.
There is a 75 per cent chance of the region receiving 100mm of rain from March to May. On average, Wollongong would receive 290mm in this time period.
Already in February, the Bellambi weather station has recorded 349mm - making this the fifth wettest month since 1997.
As for temperature, the BOM says days and nights are likely to be warmer than average from March to June, which will "elevate bushfire risk in the coming months".
There is a more than 80 per cent chance that Wollongong will exceed the maximum and minimum temperatures from April to June, which means the daily highs will likely remain above 20 degrees into winter.
Meanwhile, the dam levels in the Illawarra and Sydney have continued to rise with the total catchment now sitting at around 77 per cent.
However water restrictions remain, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying it's too early to assess whether they should be removed.