What a welcome to 2020!
On New Year's Eve, fire destroyed the Tumbarumba home of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council's manager of waste, parks and recreation services, Wayne Bennett.
Mr Bennett, appointed to the council last year, was previously a manager with Tumbarumba Shire, and returned to his old home there most weekends while living in a rented unit in Cootamundra during the week.
His Cootamundra unit has now become his permanent home until he decides whether to rebuild at Tumba.
The house, one of 30 gutted by fire, was insured, but the insurance will only cover part of the damage.
"At the end of the day I don't think anyone ever insures for total loss, when everything's gone," he said.
Of the many irreplaceable things lost, what will probably hurt more than anything, is the loss of 15 years of work he's put into a book he was writing.
"My computers were in the fire, and they had all those years of data and research and photos, each with a story to tell," he said.
"The book was about unique Australian characters, based on all the amazing people I've met as I've travelled around Australia.
"I was even fortunate enough to go walkabout for 10 days with elders in Cape York and it's just all those sorts of things."
It's heartbreaking, he agrees, but "at the end of the day you've just got to say I didn't lose any friends or family.
"You've got to keep things in perspective: there are a lot of people worse off than me - you move on and start afresh."
He doesn't know yet whether he'll rebuild.
"It's all too early yet - I had an acre of beautiful gardens and that's all gone.
"You think, am I prepared to start over, you just don't know - it's something I will let time decide for me.
"There's been a lot of suffering throughout the east coast of Australia - all over Australia, actually.
"I just hope the government fulfills their obligations and also that the donated money is put to good use."