A MALLACOOTA man who fled the East Gippsland bushfires with his family has had his bike stolen in Bendigo.
Devon Greetham and his family arrived in Bendigo last week, after making the decision to leave the coastal town before the fire front hit.
Mr Greetham said his family only had about 15 minutes to pack up their belongings before they had to leave their property. Mr Greetham chose to take his replica World War II paratrooper bike.
"We left with very little things because we weren't sure how long the road out of town would be open," he said. "I have other bikes there that are quite generic.
"This one is not that expensive, but it has brought me a lot of joy."
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Mr Greetham ended up in Bendigo with his wife's family after travelling along the NSW south-east coast and through Canberra.
The bike was stolen in Golden Square, near the Foundry Hotel, in the early hours of Monday morning. Mr Greetham said he notified police about the theft.
"I'm not holding out hope for the bike to be honest," Mr Greetham said. "But I'm also not after money or donations or anything like that.
"It's just a point about the way in which people treat other people and the impact that our actions have on others. We don't know the story behind the people we meet or people we don't know.
"Our actions, both good and bad, can have a dramatic affect on the people we're engaging with."
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from Mallacoota in the past two weeks, with local police believing the town could remain cut-off for sometime.
Mr Greetham said he and his family would return to the town as soon as they could.
"It's really hard," Mr Greetham said. "We feel really fortunate and lucky because we have the house and our belongings to go back to. A lot of our friends don't have that.
"In our situation, we could have lost everything if it wasn't for the generosity of our neighbours who chose to stay and defend our property."
Mr Greetham said he received support from people in Bendigo after he posted about the theft on Facebook. He said he hoped that generosity would extend to the Mallacoota community.
"People need to continue to support the communities that have been affected," he said. "We need to have a long-term strategy for that willingness to assist. Donated goods and money is great for immediate action.
"But if there is anyone in Bendigo looking for a beachside escape in the next year, two years, or five years, put Mallacoota or other coastal towns on your hit list as somewhere to go and spend money.
"The place and the people are amazing."
Anyone with information about Mr Greetham's stolen bike should contact the Bendigo Police Station on 5448 1300 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
People can also make a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au
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