While most people spent Christmas with friends and family, one Carrathool firefighter spent his Christmas battling bushfires in the fire-ravaged areas of Nowra.
Carrathool Rural Fire Service captain Rob Liddle returned home on Boxing Day "dead-set buggered" after spending three exhausting nights fighting fires, protecting houses, and clearing up hazards.
"By the end of it we were absolutely knackered," Mr Liddle said.
"Night shifts are always hard, but the last few days was physically draining."
He said it was also mentally draining, having to be constantly alert and on the lookout for potentially life-threatening risks.
On one occasion his crew were forced to beat a hasty retreat when they heard the sounds of trees falling down around them.
I figured if I can go down there to help one of the local fellows... then I'm happy with thatCarrathool Rural Fire Service captain Rob Liddle
The danger of the situation was not lost on Mr Liddle, who had been following the news of firefighters being killed while battling the bushfires that have been savaging the state.
"It's on the back of my mind," he said.
"Safety is on the back of all of our minds."
However Mr Liddle has been well-trained to handle such dangers, having served the Carrathool brigade for the last 10 years.
He said he was "thrown in the deep end" from day one, and he says he hasn't stopped learning since.
It's been an especially tough season for firefighters around NSW, but Mr Liddle said that for him the danger, the exhausting night shifts, and the prospect of spending Christmas away from home was all worth it, knowing he was helping the firefighters of Nowra.
"I figured if I can go down there to help one of the local fellows who's exhausted have a day off to spend with his family on Christmas, then I'm happy with that," Mr Liddle said.
He might have missed out on the chance to spend Christmas with friends and family, but when Mr Liddle returned home to Carrathool on Boxing Day they were all there to give him a hero's welcome.
"As soon as I got back some people came down to see if I was fine," Mr Liddle said.
"They were glad I was back safe."
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