Willing helpers

OFFERING SUPPORT: Millie Boyle and Kezie Apps helping sort out the huge amount of donations at Cobargo. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
OFFERING SUPPORT: Millie Boyle and Kezie Apps helping sort out the huge amount of donations at Cobargo. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

For NSW Origin teammates Millie Boyle and Kezie Apps, seeing the impact of the bushfire around Cobargo and Quaama was devastating.

On a visit to evacuation centres to support relief efforts it was particularly heartbreaking for Millie, who grew up in Cobargo.

"You're in a place where you feel nobody knows where you're from, but now when people hear you're from Cobargo, they know it's the place where the fires happened," she said.

"Cobargo was a historic town, one of those Mogo towns, but now Mogo is practically gone too.

"Everyone loved those old buildings. You feel for all those people who not only owned those buildings, but everyone who had jobs there too."

Millie said the News Year's Eve bushfire came far too close to her family as well, with her sister Daisy helping to save their father's property outside Quaama.

"Daisy helped save the house while Dad saved the tractor," Millie said.

"It was a joint effort," Daisy added. "One minute it was over the mountain, then a big ember dropped at the corner of the house, then that corner was on fire and then another corner was on fire so Dad said 'let's get going'.

"The fire just seemed to swallow the house, but it is still there. It all happened in about 20 minutes."

Daisy, 19, said while the house was saved they lost horses, and their uncle's house in Coolagolite was lost.

Kezie returned home last Tuesday to help any way she could at the Bega Evacuation Centre and got word Millie was on her way as well.

"I went in to help out the Bega excavation centre and she said she was coming home ... and I wanted to help out as well," Kezie said.

The duo joined forces in Cobargo on Wednesday and spoke with volunteers about supporting the town.

"People are doing what they can to help out," Millie said, "It makes you proud to see all the people that want to give back to the community and help in times of need."

Kezie echoes the sentiment adding, "the community has been amazing and this is exactly why I love the Bega valley - everyone rallies together to help each other".

She said it was "heartbreaking" and everyone had been affected, if not directly, they had family or loved ones who lost something in the fires. Millie, 21, agreed saying the impact would be felt on many levels.

"It will take a long time to rebuild; not just physically, but also emotionally," she said. "Hopefully tourists keep coming here and people support local businesses."

The duo also joined in at a special New Year's Eve do-over held at the Cobargo Hotel on Sunday night to enjoy the celebrations they had missed when the fires hit.

They joined two other icons of league and union as David Shillington and Clinton Toopi also made the trip to rally behind the community. Mr Shillington also donated one of this Australian jerseys to Blake Salway, who tragically lost in uncle and grandfather defending their farm from the fires.

It will take a long time to rebuild; not just physically, but also emotionally.

Kezie Apps