THERE is no instruction manual on how to recover after a bushfire.
But the people of Bicheno and Half Moon Bay need only look north for inspiration.
In December 2006, fire devastated the Break O'Day communities of St Marys, Scamander, Four Mile Creek and Falmouth.
The blaze six years ago ravaged 28,000 hectares of bush, having originated from an untended campfire and aided by strong winds, dry air and dense, dry vegetation.
After a massive firefighting effort that lasted 10 days, the fires were finally brought under control.
But not before 26 homes, four businesses and two orchards were lost.
Robert Legge, then-mayor of Break O'Day, said the aftermath of the blaze was a true lesson in loss and human nature, more since the region had never experienced a fire of that magnitude.
But after the initial grief, communities rose from the ashes of the scorched countryside.
"It was horrific, and of course we all thought it was the end of the world," Mr Legge said.
"But when it was done, 99.9 per cent of people just hopped in and did what they could to rebuild and regenerate.
"Those of us who were at the fire front learned an awful lot, too - how to fight, how to organise people, the best ways to communicate and how to ration supplies.
"Everyone was down in the dumps, but we healed."
Mr Legge said one of most important steps to recovery was declaring the region "open for business".
Like last week's fires south of Bicheno, the 2006 blaze halted tourism during the crucial East Coast summer trading period.
It came down to the council, shop owners and tourism operators to deliver a positive message to anyone who would listen. "Even though the grass was black, the beaches were still white," Mr Legge said.
"We wanted people here. All the facilities and attractions were still here, we just had to keep chipping away at people so that they weren't afraid to travel to us."
Scars of the 2006 fire can be seen through the St Marys Pass.
But the blackened tree trunks now sport a healthy green cover - symbolic of how Break O'Day has moved on from the tragedy. "It takes time, but it can be healed," Mr Legge said.
"It might sound harsh or hard-hearted, but you really don't have any choice but to move past it. Life goes on with or without you."