Diversification has been necessary for many small businesses on the Far South Coast throughout 2020, as environmental disasters and multiple restrictions on daily life have impacted the way we all function.
Cam Read and Tess Miller took on Light 2 Light Coastal Walks in May 2019 and given the success of a promising first season, would never have imagined the challenges which lay ahead for them in their new venture.
Ordinarily, the business offered guided multi-day walks on the Light to Light trail from Boyd Tower to Green Cape Light House, classed as an easy-moderate walk, with a basic level of fitness required for casual walking.
The destructive summer bushfires impacted Ben Boyd National Park significantly and parts of the the coastal wilderness walk trail were closed, initially predicted to reopen as late as 2022.
Mr Read said he and Ms Miller made the decision to re-brand their business and broaden the tours and services offered to customers, in a bid to remain viable.
"It was a bit of a shock, it was a real kick in the bum," he said.
Originally focused solely on the southern part of the shire, the pair decided to develop other walks and packages in a variety of locations, branching out to Mimosa National Park and Bournda National Park, and are developing further tours and partnerships in other locations around the Bega Valley.
A partnership with Tathra Beach and Bike will see half-day eBike tours on offer, and the couple are currently working on expanding to oyster tours at Wapengo and Broadwater, in addition to exploring some of the pristine water environments in the region via kayak.
Reflecting this broadening of their tour operations, the business have changed their name to Sapphire Coast Guiding Co.
Having lived in the area for the last four years, Mr Read said the support of other businesses in the area had been phenomenal.
"It blew us away when we first set-up," he said.
"There is room for everyone to work together, we can all coexist."
The business customises their tours to suit, with many customers opting for camping-based trips, with all transfers provided and catering supplied by local producers.
"People put their trust in us to manage the group and the pace, we provide truly unique and rewarding experiences," Mr Read said.
The entire length of the Light to Light walk was reopened to the public at the beginning of November, much earlier than had been forecast after the extensive devastation by the bushfires, and Mr Read said the area was looking very different now.
"It was a really high intensity fire and to see some parts of the bush still blackened this far on is shocking.
"South of Bittangabee there is xanthorrhoea growing madly now and we have seen tonnes of wildflowers, but in some areas the fire completely destroyed everything.
"In general recovery is going alright overall, the trails are well marked, National Parks are working hard on the weed situation," he said.
"We are excited for our tours this summer and to get people out and about again after everything that has happened this year," Mr Read said.