Businesses in the fire-gutted township of Tathra are urging visitors to return.Businesses in the NSW coastal town of Tathra are urging visitors to return as they get back on their feet for the Easter long weekend following a bushfire which destroyed 100 properties.
A Facebook page and associated hashtag #TathraStrong was set up in the aftermath of the March 18 blaze by local businessman Andy Willis who noticed “scattered” posts about the recovery effort.
The social media campaign helps residents share positive stories with the key message that the beachside town is still open for business.
“If you want to help with the recovery just turn up,” Mr Willis told AAP on Friday.
“None of the beaches have been affected and we’ve still got the most beautiful coastline and things to do around here. It’s an amazing place.”
This weekend marks the end of the official bushfire danger period in NSW.
Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says of the 13,000 blazes crews have battled since July 2017 the Tathra bushfire was “the most damaging and destructive”.
“We must be mindful that despite the significant damage and destruction in the fire, no lives were lost,” Mr Fitzsimmons said in a statement on Friday.
“This is a testament to the community and to the work of firefighters from all agencies.”
About 100 properties were destroyed in the south coast blaze. Local caravan park Tathra Beachside lost four cabins and had a team of 60 volunteers and 20 staff working constantly for a week to get the site open again.
Owner Carmen Risby says they had many cancellations in the days after the fire but, while things were initially looking “sad and dismal”, guests have returned for the Easter long weekend.
“We knew if we didn’t get up and running and bring the people in that should be in, they wouldn’t spend their money in town and it would have a bad flow-on effect,” she told AAP.
A newsletter to guests explains what areas of the town are impacted and visitors have also been reminded to respect the privacy of those who lost everything.
Ms Risby said the tragedy had helped bring people together.
“When you go through something horrendous together you always come out stronger at the other end.”
Col Funston, who runs Coastlife Adventures, says his business was relatively unaffected but had to cancel a trip for about 200 students and staff.
“It’s really sad for the residents that have been displaced and left to rebuild, but those people and others want people to come to Tathra and are happy to talk about the events,” he told AAP.
“Getting our economy on the road as quickly as possible is the most important thing in any small regional town.”
Due to ongoing dry conditions, the bushfire danger period has been extended to the end of April in the Snowy Valleys, Tamworth and mid-western regions only.