A week after the Black Saturday bushfires razed Marysville, art historian Andrew Mackenzie rang local historian Mary Kenealy vowing to help rebuild the town's heritage collection, which was destroyed.
He is a man of his word and, after five years of mostly unpaid work, he has been awarded an OAM for helping collect 20,000 Marysville-related photos, documents and objects.
The quest spanned the globe and he donated 1500 items himself. From a Las Vegas collector he bought a large, 1920s tourist poster of Marysville, boasting it had the tallest trees in the British empire. At a London bookshop he bought a set of rare novels by late 19th century and early 20th century author Marion Miller Knowles, who grew up near Marysville.
Items the public sent in included visitors' books from the Marylands and Cumberland guest houses that burnt down, a 1940s family holiday home movie, a 1950s football guernsey and school photos.
Mrs Kenealy said the OAM was ''well deserved, because of Andrew's unstinting efforts to restoring Marysville's original story and helping the society get back on its feet''.
Mr Mackenzie, an art historian who advises councils on heritage projects, has worked as a librarian, as archivist for private collections, a biographer of artists Frederick McCubbin and Walter Withers and a lecturer on the Heidelberg School artists at the National Gallery of Victoria.
He said 12,000 of the donations to the Marysville and District Historical Society were photos and he has archived, scanned and copied them all to disk.
Anyone with historical Marysville items can email: firstname.lastname@example.org