When Julia Weston and Frank Giles bought their 300 acre St Marys property 25 years ago, they could have never envisioned the difficulties they would face.
The latest difficulty, which happened just after 8am on Wednesday, was one of the most confronting.
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While preparing for a trip to Launceston, Ms Weston was interrupted by Mr Giles bursting into the home telling her their more than 100 year old barn was being ravaged by fire.
Two hours later, the fire had completely floored the recently renovated barn causing as much as $150,000 damage.
"All that was left was burnt tin lying where the barn once stood," Ms Weston said.
I just can't believe it. It's terrible and I'm still feeling a bit shocked. The fire just burned so fiercely.- Property owner Julia Weston
While the Tasmania Fire Service estimated the cost of the damage, Ms Weston said the reality was the barn was priceless. As a business that relied on making an impression, the vista the barn presented its visitors had proved memorable over the years.
For the weeks and months prior, Mr Giles had been fastidiously restoring the tin, pulling out each nail and replacing them one-by-one, and then rust and fire proofing the whole place.
While fire proofing may seem somewhat strange for an area that only five years ago had flooded, but the memory of a harsh Tasmania drought was still fresh in the barn owners' memories.
Before the fire came a close call with the 2020 Fingal fires, before that the flood, and before the flood was the period of drought which proved despairingly difficult for the working blueberry and livestock farm-turned-farmstay.
Ms Weston said during the period of drought they had to cut their live stock numbers from 390 to less than 100.
She said while Wednesday's fire had been the latest sucker-punch delivered, the period of drought was the most painful.
Floods and fire can do an enormous lot of damage in an instant, but the drought is just insidious and you have no idea what to do about it.- Property owner Julia Weston
"Do you buy stock food in the hope it passes, or do you sell it all, and all your stock in preparation for it to keep lasting? It's impossible to know."
But arguably the most impactful whack in a long line of whacks had hit the farmstay throughout the past 18 months.
Like everywhere, COVID had virtually brought to a halt the farmstay's capacity to attract guests.
When considering the fact large Tasmanian Hospitality Association member hotels posted some of their highest vacancy rates ever, the idea that a small cottage one-hour-and-a-half from Launceston with a minuscule marketing budget would be any less impacted would be naive.
Ms Weston said throughout the pandemic, notwithstanding periods of complete closure, attracting one visitor every few months was the standard.
"We've been struggling for a number of years, and we're not really making any money out of this because we've had all these setbacks," she said.
Ms Weston and Mr Giles had managed to keep himself busy during the difficult years, tending to the farm and growing an increasingly impressive garden, but the instant devastation of Wednesday's fire had almost caused both of them to falter.
Ms Weston said the barn was where her partner kept a hoard of antique tools he had collected continually over "years and years and years" working in various paid and unpaid roles including as an electrician, shearer, motor-mechanic, diesel-mechanic and butcher.
For him, she thought, the loss of the barn could prove to be the nail that pieced his battle-wearied, stoic exterior.
So when Ms Weston learnt within hours of news of the barn's destruction filtering throughout the East Coast region it had been shared among friends and support had flowed, she built on the resilience she had developed over years of struggles and seemed to brush herself of once again.
"The house didn't burn down, the animals weren't injured, we weren't hurt and we immediately got support," she said.
"That's the positive, the silver-lining, out of it: human nature isn't so bad."
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