About 40 people stayed overnight in the bushfire evacuation centre at the Isis Cultural Centre in Childers, cared for by dedicated volunteers.
It's been more than 19 years since the cultural centre has been used as a refuge. The facility hosted almost 70 of the surviving backpackers from the tragic Backpacker Hostel fire of June 2000.
The mood today is much more buoyant than those dark days with stranded residents from fires at Woodgate making the most of a night at the centre and showing good spirit and resilience.
The Red Cross had four staff members in attendance with the Salvation Army and Childers Neighbourhood Centre pitching in to assist with bedding and food.
Bundaberg Red Cross president Carol Delnevo said 66 people registered but only 37 remained overnight after residents of Buxton received the all-clear to return to their homes.
“The people who stayed here have been amazing. It’s been a real social occasion for many of them although a lot of them never got much sleep,” she said.
Carol and her team started their shift at 7pm.
A bus group that had been on a shopping expedition to Bundaberg, and unable to return to their Woodgate homes, was full of praise for the comforts provided.
“Everyone has been great. We’ve all pitched in and helped each other,” said Hilda Danziger, one of the bus passengers.
“Our group enjoys a good time no matter where we are. We spent the night chatting, doing crosswords, telling jokes and sharing a few songs.”
Leslie Whiting from Woodgate and Glen Window from Goodwood said they understood the reasons why they were unable to return home last night.
“It’s obviously safety first and when the Police ultimately give you that direction there is no arguing,” said Glen.
Leslie was among the convoy originally given permission to head back to Woodgate, but was turned around at a road block at Kinkuna Waters.
“There was no smoke or anything but the reasoning was that it was easier to keep people from returning rather than have to evacuate them again if the need arose,” he said.
The road to Woodgate remained closed this morning.