Celebrated Australian sculptor Greg Taylor was in the throes of moving his life from the bone-chilling winters of Melbourne to his little mud-brick house and studio on Williams Hill Rd when fire ravaged the Nambucca Valley.
"People say that mud bricks don't burn, but my house is proof that they absolutely do," he said. "I lost so much artwork."
It's been almost a year and a half since the flames took all, but like many others, he's still in the process of clearing bureaucratic hurdles before he can rebuild his life here.
"I'm stuck in limbo, waiting for a building certificate," he said.
He had procured himself a shipping container to sleep in and secure the new tools he'd acquired for when the rebuild eventually began.
But after an extended stay in hospital over the festive period, Greg came home to South Arm to discover he'd been wiped out ... again. This time by thieves.
"I got back and drove down the hill and it was like ... 'what!'," he said, still in disbelief. "They took a chainsaw, pumps, a generator, tools, gas stove, cook rings, and my good pots and pans - you know, all the useful stuff.
"Police are saying it was a crime of opportunity, but they were able to get the lock off - a big-arsed container lock. And they know most of us have shiny new stuff now because we're rebuilding after the fires."
It's a dog act - a real dog act, even for bad guys.
Despite being a well-known figure in the art world, Greg is not flush with cash.
"I work in the arts and COVID really screwed us over," he said. "I'm just surviving."
To make matters worse none of the contents in his shipping container were insured. "No one will insure a container in the middle of the bush unless you start building," he said. "So it's a wonderful chicken and egg scenario."
Meanwhile we're all there just ripe for the picking, and we're being picked.
With all that's happened, Greg said he's often asked himself whether the effort of rebuilding is worth it.
"I wonder how I'm going to be able to do this if I can't keep anything here. They just make it so hard for you," he said.
But then he looks out over the vista of the western mountains and feels the warmth of the sun on his skin.
"This is God's-own country - what a great place to pull up a drawbridge."