How has the last 12 months affected the business?
A dry thunder storm in November created a lightning strike that started a fire in the Currawon Forest. While the strike was northwest of the business, Phil and his wife did become worried. They watched as the fire grew bigger and moved closer. This was the Currowan fire and it went on to burn for 74 days, across 499,621 hectares and destroyed 312 homes.
Early December, the community of South Durras began to receive evacuation messages. Half of the town chose to leave, while the other half decided to stay and defend. For five long days Phil and his family waited, watched and prepared for the worst, while each day the fire grew and each night the red glow edged closer. Smoke filled air, helicopters, planes, news reporters and neighbours helping neighbours became the new reality for South Durras. Phil can vividly recall the day he and his family watched water bombers spraying the forest across the lake to save the neighbouring North Durras. Little did he know that two days later, he himself would be helping stop the fire from taking houses in his own town.
Fortunate enough to not lose any homes in South Durras, the town was devastated by the desecration of Murramarang National Park. The community was without electricity, the road into town was closed and all businesses, including Phil and Carolyn’s came to a halt for a majority of December. Tourists began to return in late December, but the Currowan fire wasn’t done yet. On New Year’s Eve, the fire roared down the mountains and wreaked havoc on Batemans Bay and other coastal communities.
While Phil and his family are reminded of the fire each time they look at the forest, they were offered little reprieve. The devastation to tourism caused by the fires and now, COVID-19 has ensured that Bay and Beyond Sea Kayak Tours have received little to no income.