Four years on, communities ravaged by the Black Saturday bushfires are looking firmly to the future, but recent blazes across eastern Australia have stoked memories of that sweltering day.
One hundred and seventy three people died in the February 7 bushfires that ripped the heart out of some of Victoria's most beautiful bush hamlets: in Kinglake, 38 people died, in Marysville, 34; Strathewen lost 27 of its 200 residents, Flowerdale lost two.
Long-time Flowerdale resident and community volunteer Lyn Gunter, who was Murrindindi shire mayor at the time of Black Saturday, recently flew to Tasmania with two friends to help those hit by fire in Dunalley.
"We wanted to give back some of the overwhelming generosity that was given to us," she told AAP.
She said they helped load trucks, distribute clothing but, most importantly, listened to people who wanted to talk.
The experience brought back memories of Black Saturday, Ms Gunter said.
"It's amazing the flashback you get getting into bed with that bushfire smell between the sheets and the blankets," she said.
Forty per cent of Murrindindi shire land was burnt in the Black Saturday fires.
Ms Gunter lost friends and her dog but her house was largely spared.
She said people in the community were at different stages of recovery, and still having high and low days.
"It's like a rollercoaster: you can have these really fantastic, really positive days and days where you are not travelling so well," she said.
Ms Gunter said the recent bushfires in Victoria had been traumatic for some Black Saturday survivors.
"We had two days where we were just living in smoke and that scared people," she said.
"People say I cannot watch telly; I cannot watch the news because I cannot see those fires, what's going on, because it just brings back everything that occurred four years ago."
"Four years on, it's still fresh and raw in many people's minds."
She said sometimes she leaves an area to get some space away from from the blackened trees and vacant lots.
"You learn to live with that day to day," she said.
Marysville resident David Stirling lost his home, two shops and a 10,000-plant lavender farm in the inferno.
As the fourth anniversary approaches, he says he plans to reflect, quietly.
"There is not a lot of people that will talk about it because it's not something that we do," he told AAP.
"But certainly it's a time to just reflect and think about maybe where we have come from and how lucky we are to still be around and where we can contribute to still rebuilding and renewing the town."
Nearly one in five families whose households were destroyed are still making do with temporary accommodation.
A Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development survey of 1380 bushfire-affected households, published two months ago, showed 19 per cent, or 268 households, remain in temporary accommodation - either off-site or in temporary arrangements on their fire-affected property.
The Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) is helping about 250 households whose homes were destroyed in the fires and have yet to return to permanent accommodation, through the Further Housing Assistance Gift.
Under the program, households may be eligible for up to $50,000 to finish the rebuilding of their homes, buy a new home, or find other, permanent housing, such as long-term rental accommodation.
Almost two thirds - more than $225 million - of the VBAF has been spent on housing support.
Rebuilding is not the only step in the road to recovery, with mental health and ongoing support for small businesses in bushfire-affected communities being other areas of concern.
Mr Stirling has run the Tower Motel in Marysville since November 2010 and is the chair of the local chamber of commerce.
He said bushfires in other areas of the state this summer and the ensuing media coverage had discouraged tourists from coming to Marysville or had prompted others to cut short their stays.
"The last thing we need is bad publicity," he said.
"It's affecting people travelling and whether they should come up to this area because we have been affected four years ago.
"It doesn't help when we're trying to recover."
Marysville wants to encourage day-trippers from Melbourne to stay and to tap into the market of young professionals who enjoy the area's outdoor activities such as bushwalking and biking as well as the nearby Yarra Valley wineries.
While welcoming the $28 million Vibe Hotel and conference centre, which is expected to be finished by 2014, Mr Stirling said there was not enough ongoing government support for small businesses.
He said a range of initiatives, such as financial assistance and staff training, should be introduced.
"The support business-wise, financially or anything else, was terrible really," he said.
"But we have to understand that there were a lot of things that needed to be sorted out (such as rebuilding homes, schools and other community assets)."
Mr Stirling said now was the time businesses needed long-term support and investment incentives for people looking to set up shop in the area.
The main bushfire appeal fund, VBAF, became the largest charitable fund in Australian history, worth $401 million, but is now nearing its end.
Of the total funds, $361 million has been paid out and the remaining $40 million has been allocated to existing projects and programs.
Under federal tax law, charitable donations, such as VBAF, cannot be used to provide a private commercial benefit to an individual or corporation.
However, the VBAF negotiated with the federal government and was able to provide payments of up to $10,000 to individuals who continued in a primary production businesses.
In Kinglake, the Alamarta Youth group, run by Lesley Bevington, will run out of VBAF money in March.
Ms Bevington said the group had 150 young people on its books and was examining other sources of funding from both the state government and through philanthropy.
The group runs a counselling service and art and music programs, and refers young people in the area to other support agencies.
It also runs positive psychology programs in schools.
"Our kids started a petition, it was really quite touching ... because they don't want to lose their youth group," Ms Bevington told AAP.
She said some children were well into their recovery process while others were only just starting to realise their trauma.
"Four years: it sounds like a lot to people that don't live in these areas but everybody heals and moves forward at a different rate," she said.
"We are not even halfway through the journey and the reality is that kids and families are experiencing difficulties.
"It's a long journey. It's a 10-year journey to recovery."