With the ground burning around his home in Dunalley, Tasmania, resident Tim Holmes knew he and his family had only one place to hide: In the water.

Holmes' wife Tammy and their five grandchildren age 2 to 11 held on to a pier for three hours until Tim managed to find his dinghy and transport them to safety.

While they were huddled in the bay, Holmes snapped several photos to send his daughter so she knew they were all together.

"It's still quite an upsetting image," Bonnie Walker told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "It's of all of my five children underneath the jetty, huddled up to neck deep sea water, which is cold. I knew that that would be a challenge to keep three non-swimmers above water and with only my mom, dad and our eldest daughter."

Tim told ABC the "tornadoes of fire" spinning toward their property left them "no other escape."

Wildfires have engulfed large areas of Australia, bolstered by a record heatwave that saw the Bureau of Meteorology extend the temperature range on weather forecasting charts for the first time.

[photo via AP]