Homeless, heart-broken but looking ahead

JOHN McCauley will tell you he was from Dunalley.

Mr McCauley uses "was" because the home he bought just five months ago was destroyed in the bushfires.

It isn't the only thing he has lost. There were so many possessions inside as well as tractors, and a boat.

"It breaks your heart to think about it," he said.

"When you're 75 years old do you start again, or call it quits?"

Mr McCauley had prepared his house against bushfire over several months and stayed; prepared to defend it.

But police told him to get out when there were spot fires appearing 50 to 60 metres ahead of the main fire front.

Mr McCauley escaped with his wife Patricia, his 92-year-old mother-in-law, Doris Aspden, and Jack Russell-fox terrier cross, Toby.

Mrs McCauley said the only thing they had time to grab was some of her mother's medication.

"We're all alive and all survived and that's the main thing," she said.

"You never look back - always look forward."

The couple are keen to survey the damage after being told by firefighters that their home was destroyed.

Mr McCauley still finds it hard to believe the house is gone. He has also been amazed at the kindness of friends and strangers.

"How wonderful are the people here on the Tasman Peninsula? I mean, talk about help and support."

The McCauleys were among hundreds of people who have been ferried across to Hobart from the peninsula.

As well as displaced residents there were many holidaymakers who became trapped.

New Zealander Margaret Crooke and her husband, Bob, were planning to spend Friday at Port Arthur.

Instead, they ended up at the refuge in Nubeena where they spent the night.

Mrs Crooke said the last time she was in Tasmania it was in 1967 - another year of terrible bushfires.

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