When Luke Burch steers his runabout across the pristine waters of Wonboyn Lake on the far South Coast of NSW, he reckons the green shoots on the blackened eucalypts lining the foreshore are the best motivator for his own business recovery.

Luke feels he’s definitely one of the lucky guys after the Black Summer bushfires.

It was only in October 2019, that Luke and his wife Sarah, and three kids (there’s a fourth now!), moved to start their dream lifestyle of owning and operating the Wonboyn

Cabins and Caravan Park, about 30mins from Eden. Luke was quick to add an on-site food van and a coffee machine to the park, giving locals a much needed take-away service, and also a place for the community to meet.

After several close-calls, the fires finally reached the park’s boundaries in the first week of January.

Local fire crews were able to protect 90% of the property. Luke lost a workshop, a few van sites, and his future customers.

"For two months we couldn’t trade. We sat and wondered if people were ever going to come back,” says Luke. “It forced us into a position where we needed to diversify and be ready for another situation like that."

The experience also left Luke wanting to grow a business that didn’t rely on a single season or a certain tourist demographic. He knew he had to diversify, and reached out to the Entrepreneurs’ Programme through its Strengthening Business service.

I could see I needed help to bring my ideas to life. And I needed to talk to someone who had experience in these fields, to give me the contacts I didn’t have, basically.
— Luke Burch, Owner, Wonboyn Cabins & Caravan Park

Steve Millot is part of the network of facilitators for Strengthening Business, on the ground in the Bega Valley and Eden. He's continuing to help Luke achieve some quick wins for his business, and determine what he needs to prepare for any other business disrupters.

"It's about building resilience in someone like Luke, in their thought processes, and then planning for the events you really can't control." says Steve.

Luke now has a solid vision for how Wonboyn Cabins and Caravan Park will look in the next few years. He says facilitators like Steve genuinely want him to succeed, and that lifts his confidence to go for the big ideas.

"I want to build a micro-brewery onsite, and be part of a craft brewery trail down the south coast of NSW. So something for locals, as well as the roadtrippers. I want to put Wonboyn on the map as a great destination for food and good beer in one of the best places in Australia."

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