Since arriving in Australia, we’ve seen people uniting to fight the bushfires. 

There are fire teams from across the state acting as one.

Volunteers pulling together.

Communities finding ways to help those who have lost their homes.

But on our last day in New South Wales, this is the story of one woman, going it alone.

Helmet cam footage from a volunteer firefighter in Australia
Image: Teams of firefighters from across the country are working together

On Saturday, Carolyn McLean pulled off the unimaginable.

Carolyn runs a dog-breeding business from her rural home in the town of Clarence, high up in the Blue Mountains.

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In the kennels, currently, there are 19 Maremmano sheepdogs, two cats and four goats.

She also lives with and cares full-time for her mother, who is 87, blind and disabled.

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Image: Carolyn thinks fire season isn’t over yet

“In the past, when there have been bushfires, we’ve always been hit from behind the house,” she tells me.

“And that’s how we prepared to be hit, from the back.”

But a combination of high winds and scorching temperatures meant that Carolyn found herself in the middle of the most ferocious and unpredictable bushfire her community had ever seen.

She sums it up like this: “If you live in this part of the bush, you get used to bushfires. But this has made even the toughest men in Clarence cry.

Stlll from Katerina Vittozzi's package on the Australian bush fires and Carolyn McLean - a woman who fought them off to save her house, animals and disabled mum
Image: There is no phone or mobile signal at Carolyn’s house

“I was in the house when I saw the fire coming,” she says.

“It was rolling in from over the ridge in the front, and it’s never done that before.”

There is no phone or mobile signal at Carolyn’s house. There was no-one she could call for help. She knew it was up to her to try to survive.

“I raced to the kennels and put the sprinklers on, to protect the animals.

“And once I’d done that, and got all the hoses out, I had to go inside because it was very hard to breathe. So I went inside, just to get a few breaths.”

It was from there she saw the fire jump the road, and head up the grass lawn to her house.

Stlll from Katerina Vittozzi's package on the Australian bush fires and Carolyn McLean - a woman who fought them off to save her house, animals and disabled mum
Image: Carolyn McLean runs a dog-breeding business in the Blue Mountains

The flames cut off all routes of escape.

“I thought we were going to go. That the house was going to go.

“I picked up my mother, and ran her through to the furthest back room in the house. I wrapped her in wet towels and blankets, and locked her in, in case she got disorientated and tried to get out.

“I got out my safety gear, and started fighting the fire just with the house hoses.”

She fended off the flames single-handedly.

“By the time the fire crews were here, look, they were flat-out that day and you can’t be annoyed at them, but I pretty well had it under control.”

Stlll from Katerina Vittozzi's package on the Australian bush fires and Carolyn McLean - a woman who fought them off to save her house, animals and disabled mum
Image: Carolyn’s mum is 87, blind and disabled

Carolyn saved her mother, her home, and her animals. But she doesn’t think she’s safe.

“My biggest fear is that it will break out again. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the fire season yet. It will come back.

“This was my first fire season alone. I lost my husband to bowel cancer last year and, well, hopefully he was looking after me.

“He is looking all of us, I hope.”