Local business owner, Sarah Carlisle, of Venture Out, has had her busiest winter on record - not something one would expect during COVID-19 restrictions.
Since incorporating bike sales and servicing into her adventure tourism business two years ago, it’s bikes that have kept her shop door open during COVID.
Venture Out opened up with bike hire and mountain bike tours in December 2014, later expanding into paddling hire and tours and then into retail.
The growing business went from a seasonal operation to a year-round storefront on the Esplanade.
“It was pretty unbelievable to face COVID on the back of the bushfires, but we’ve had a constant flow of business during autumn and winter this year despite that,” Sarah said.
“I’ve been able to keep staff on and I’ve had to keep working to keep up with demand, while I would normally close-up shop for a break during August.”
Thankful for the support of local families looking to keep rolling on two wheels, Sarah’s doing her best to keep the shop stocked and the bikes serviced.
“We’re experiencing a bike shortage worldwide this year - there’s been an unexpected demand for bikes during COVID and bike brands are struggling to keep up,” she said.
“I’ve been telling anyone who is even thinking about buying a bike to order it now, you might get lucky, or you might be waiting more than six months.”
While tourism has been largely off-limits during restrictions, Venture Out has started to run some private adventure exercise sessions for local families with kids on National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans.
“We were approached by local families that wanted to be able to access activities for their kids where all existing group programs had ceased due to restrictions,” Sarah said.
“While restrictions allowed exercise, I’ve been teaching a local boy to ride on his new bike, and taking older youth riding along the Kalimna Jetty track or out into the forest for mountain bike rides.
“Last week after restrictions had eased, we were able to run a small group ride session that incorporated some trail maintenance at the Colquhoun Mountain Bike Park.
“Kurt, Damo and Thomas did a great job helping us with a bit of raking, and a small section of the trail out there is now nice and smooth thanks to their help. I’ve been wanting for a while to make Venture Out’s ride and paddle adventures more accessible to our all- abilities community, hopefully this is the start of something that can continue to grow and build more skills, confidence and connectedness into our community.
“Seeing our regional visitors enjoying the town once again during these school holidays has been heartwarming. It’s been a relief to be able to operate riding and paddling tours again, to get out and do what we love in our beautiful backyard.
“I just want to say a big thank you to the community for their support for local business during 2020.”
Thomas Brown, Damen Bassett and Kurt Campbell with Venture Out guides Peter Brown and Sarah Carlisle. (PS)