Kinglake, Sydney: Surviving residents of Marysville, where up to 100 more people are feared killed in Australia's bushfires, are still being kept out of town to shield them from traumatic scenes there, authorities said on Wednesday.

The rising death toll in Australia's deadliest bushfires now stands at 181, but could exceed 200, authorities say. If the Marysville deaths are confirmed, the toll may reach 300.

A firefighter, who drove through Marysville only 10 minutes before the firestorm hit on Saturday night, said people banged on the side of his water tanker, begging his team to help people trapped in burning houses.

"The toll is going to be massive," fireman John Munday said.

Victoria state Premier John Brumby said Marysville, which has been off-limits since the weekend fires, would remain so because of the likelihood of ghastly sights in the once idyllic town.

More than 4,000 firefighters are still battling some 33 fires in Victoria state, with 23 of those still out of control.

One turtle's shell melted and fused to its body. A baby wallaby's ears were fried to a crisp. And birds scorched by Australia's worst-ever wildfires plummeted from the sky.

On Wednesday, the scope of the devastation to Australia's wildlife began to emerge, with officials estimating that millions of animals also perished in the inferno.