Sara Tilling will forever be haunted by what she encountered after her wildlife sanctuary was destroyed by fire.
"A badly burnt wallaby cowered on the top paddock, scratching to get under a twisted sheet of tin."
"Oh my god ... it was just ... I don't know how he was still alive," Ms Tilling told AAP
She and partner Gary Henderson had to euthanise the animal with the limited supplies they had - a small dose of sedative and a blunt instrument.
The next morning, they woke to find a female kangaroo up on the hill.
"The whole front of her body was just a burnt mess, so we had to do the same thing to her," Ms Tilling said.
"To have to do that to any animal is something I think that will haunt us - and to have seen the scale of the injuries when they were still alive - that will haunt us for the rest of our lives."
The couple's 850-acre property at Cobargo on the NSW south coast was a haven for hundreds of kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and birds.
Then a vicious firestorm thundered through on New Year's Eve and decimated everything in its path.
"We could not believe the scale of the devastation," Ms Tilling said.
"People said to us you need to prepare yourself for what you're going to encounter. You cannot prepare yourself for what we found when we got home."
Kangaroos electrocuted by fallen powerlines.
Wombats buried alive in their burrows.
Wallabies incinerated by the fast-moving fire.
The historic homestead, enclosures, dairy and stables were ashen ruins.
One charred shed was all that remained.
And so that's where the couple slept for several nights as they tried to rebuild their lives.
The couple has spent the weeks since the fire caring for surviving animals and burying the dead.
About 20 kangaroos have slowly returned - though that number has since dropped - with several animals dying from burns, muscle disease or smoke inhalation.
For a long time after the fire, Ms Tilling didn't think she would survive.
She told Gary she couldn't do it any more and wanted to walk away.
"He said to me, 'What else would we do?' And what else would we do, when these animals need us more than ever?"
The couple has now shifted their bed from the charred shed into a donated caravan, heading into town when they need to shower or wash their clothes.
They are firmly focused on rebuilding enclosures to nurse sick and injured wildlife back to health.
Fundraising drives to support their recovery have raised more than $70,000."I think as we help the animals we will heal as well, and I think that's probably the best thing we can do," Ms Tilling said.
Follow Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary here.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/fires-australia-kangaroo-sanctuary-devastated-in-nsw-cobargo/8b2d391c-2d21-4ac9-9df7-c299eb3419c6