It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves countless times in our lifetime: if your house was burning, what would you save?
Most of us will never be in a position where you have just minutes to grab the things most precious to you.
But for one woman, snap decisions made as she raced about her house grabbing precious items in a flood of tears, show a fascinating insight into what is really important.
A grass fire broke out near Gunning, NSW, 260 km south-west of Sydney on Wednesday afternoon, and Meghan Wall was caring for her toddler on a nearby farm.
A message from the Rural Fire Service, alerting her of a ‘Watch and Act’ notice about an out-of-control fire in the district was all it took to put her bush fire plan in action.
“The basic drill is to get everyone out safely and manage stock away from the fire, so while my husband was focusing on the stock, I bundled my son into the car and drove him to the safety of a friend’s house in Goulburn," Wall said.
"Then I returned to the house to focus on grabbing important documents, irreplaceable photographs and family heirlooms.
“I went from room to room, breaking it down to the bare question, ‘What in here can never be replaced?’ Then I quickly assessed whether or not I should take any items at all and just walk away. The mindset for me was asking myself to pretend that the house had already burnt down and what items, if I lost, would I be truly devastated about.”
The first thing I grabbed was my son’s precious baby blanket.
I couldn’t bear to leave my grandmother’s cutlery set.
Family christening heirlooms. The thought of losing this would break my heart.
Being practical, I grabbed all important documents such as birth certificates, passports and my son’s ‘blue book'.
My laptop also made the cut -- computers are replaceable but this is filled with our entire life of information.
My favourite jewellery. Every piece of jewellery has a story and these necklaces have many stories to tell.
All irreplaceable artwork. This is a favourite of mine.
My elephant statue. He is very heavy but I wasn’t going to leave him behind.
This tea cup is from a set of 24 so obviously I couldn’t take them all but in memory of my grandma, I’ll take just one. I also figured I’d need a cuppa when all this was over.
Thankfully Wall's home and property remained unharmed but, at least, now she knows exactly which items she will grab the next time fire threatens the farm.
"It really makes you ponder your life and material possessions and the things that matter most in your life," Wall said.
The fire started within 500m of Gunning, initially threatening the town, before heading towards the Hume Highway.
Rural Fire Service firefighters and their colleagues from NSW Fire and Rescue battled the blaze -- it took 185 firefighters in 56 vehicles to get the fire under control.
They were joined by three water bombing aircraft from Goulburn, Orange and Bathurst and a VLAT DC10 air tanker from Sydney -- the 'Southern Belle'.
Up to 800 hectares were burnt out by the fire and while no human lives or buildings were lost, an estimated 100 sheep were killed or had to be destroyed.