Three men swam through croc-infested water to find their families after their houseboat overturned during a holiday in a freak storm.
And a father risked his life pulling a stranger from a smoking car after a smash, moments before the vehicle exploded into flames.
These are some of the ordinary people recognised for their extraordinary courage in the national bravery awards, announced by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Monday.
Troy Glover, Philip Abram and Michael Jerram were among about 12 family friends holidaying on the Mary River near Darwin in October 2013 when a freak thunderstorm struck and tipped the two houseboats they were staying in.
“One boat went back on all fours, so to speak, but the other boat basically got sucked out of the water and tipped upside down,” Mr Glover told The New Daily on Monday.
The three men have been recognised for their bravery after swimming though the crocodile-infested river trying to save their loved ones.
Mother of two Toni Forder came up face down in the water after being under for about two minutes.
Resuscitation attempts failed.
Mr Glover had dived underwater three times looking for his wife Tina in the upturned boat.
“I went into the boat several times holding my breath as much as I could, trying to feel for my wife. When I came up the third time, I just went to hold my breath again when my son screamed out, ‘Mum, Mum there she is’. She had popped up from the side.”
Mr Abram and Mr Jerram pulled her out and she began vomiting up water.
That was when Ms Forder came up about 100 metres away, faced down.
The men pulled her into a tinnie and Mr Jerram worked on resuscitating her for the entire 40-minute journey on the shoreline, where they were eventually met by an ambulance.
Ms Forder was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Abram’s daughter – aged nine or 10 – had also been trapped inside the boat underwater and cut her leg escaping through broken glass.
She had two operations due to an infection, Mr Glover said.
There had been about seven crocodiles around the boats just before the incident, he said.
“We’d seen a crocodile come out and have a go at a hawk that was scooting [across] the water. They were extremely big crocs, all in excess of three metres that’s for sure.”
It didn’t enter his mind that he could be quickly killed by a crocodile while he looked for his wife, but he stopped his son from diving in to help save Ms Forder.
Car crash wreckage
Nicolas Bompas dropped his car off at a garage to be fixed in Victoria’s Geelong in January 2013.
His wife and two young children drove him home to Torquay, where they witnessed a horror two-car smash.
A four-wheel drive skidded several metres on the Surf Coast Highway and flipped on the driver’s side, trapping a young woman inside.
“Her seatbelt was stuck and she couldn’t get herself out of the car,” Mr Bompas told The New Daily.
The car was smoking and he could see oil leaking onto the road. In her panic, the woman was also revving the engine.
“So the car was whirring and smoke was coming out.”
The trio stood on top of the passenger side of the car and opened the door, got her seatbelt off and pulled her up and out.
Mr Bompas then turned off the ignition and the car burst into flames.
Someone handed him a fire extinguisher, “but the car was too far gone”.
“The girl was safe and the car was just gone.”
He was one of 62 people to receive a bravery award on Monday.
“It’s a funny thing because I don’t expect anything. A lot of people do these things every day.”
He said it was a lucky coincidence his wife was driving, because it allowed him to leave his kids in the car to help.
The bravery of Lindt siege victim Katrina Dawson and survivor Jarrod Morton-Hoffman were also recognised in the awards on Monday.