NO traffic on the Oxley Highway means businesses in and around Walcha have been severely hit by the lack of tourists and passersby.
The highway could now be closed for up to three months because of numerous landslips, spelling more bad luck for business owners.
Gingers Creek Roadhouse owner Gary Hartas said the situation was "disastrous" for his shop, which is smack-bang in the middle of the highway, following on from the huge bushfires and COVID pandemic.
Eight out of the past 14 months his business' doors have been closed.
"This time last year, it was closed for two months with the fires, then we got going again but then COVID hit, then got going good but I got a fine from police for not following COVID directions because I have to sign everyone in on mobile and we have no reception so we can't do the QR thing," Mr Hartas said.
"We've been closed for about five months now, and I was about to reopen for the holidays and bought all the stock again and this is the third time I had to chuck out the chips and drinks."
He said there was "no point" being open because there was no-one driving the road at the moment.
"It's getting a bit scary because the bank account is on zero," Mr Hartas said.
"There's nothing I can do, except just sit and wait for when it's open and I'll restock again and go again.
"As soon as the highway is open I'll be open again or I'll be bankrupt."
A staff member at Walcha Transwest Fuels said "Walcha businesses can't cop a break".
"It hasn't been a pleasant three or four years, not just with the landslips but also the fires," he said.
"The former owner didn't have dramas but the last five years are a different story."
He said thankfully even though fuel purchases had been down, they still had the mechanic business, so they weren't solely "relying on that tourist trade".
Walcha Council mayor Eric Noakes said it was going to be an ongoing problem for business owners until the road was reopened.
"A lot of stock gets taken down that way because with Waterfall Way shut too it's a damn long way from Walcha to Kempsey for the abattoirs," Cr Noakes said.
"While it's hard for Transport for NSW, we put up with a damn long road closure last time [during bushfires] and we just don't want to go through that again.
"The quicker they can get it open will be so much better for our community just to stay on our feet."
The highway has been closed since mid-March when heavy rainfall caused numerous landslips.
The Waterfall Way is also closed, so motorists have to choose which long route they take to the coast: either Gloucester, Taree or Grafton.
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