After months of living under the threat of fire, businesses on the South Coast are now facing very real questions about their long-term viability.
The Kings Highway is the lifeblood of Batemans Bay and beyond. After a weeks-long hiatus it reopened on Tuesday and tourists were told it was safe to return.
But no one taking a stroll through Batemans Bay on Thursday would have guessed by looking at the main street it was peak season. So locals have a simple message for tourists - come back and visit.
Fish and chips store Innes' Boatshed co-owner Tracy Innes said Batemans Bay and countless towns on the South Coast were hurting from the fires, but they needed Canberrans' support.
"If they don't come down now the CBD of Batemans Bay won't be here in three months," she said.
"They'll come to Batemans Bay and they'll be nothing open I can tell you right now. We'll be lucky in three months' time for there to be half of the businesses open."
Ms Innes said by the end of the Australia Day weekend, the store would likely be down $450,000 in earnings on a seven-week period.
"You're never going to recoup that money you're just going to have to be able to live through it," she said. "I know there are five businesses in town this week that are closing or closed in the next week or so permanently. Can't pay rent, can't pay staff, can't pay for the stock they've got in."
She said locals might be a little fragile at the moment, but the vast majority were excited about the prospect of tourists returning.
The rain that arrived on Friday was a welcome reprieve for locals, and they can only hope it continues.
"What's going to be so beautiful after a couple of days of drizzle and what we're getting excited about is that the bush will bloom," she said.
"It really shows how resilient it is. If we can get a little more it's just going to be beautiful and could change everyone's outlook.
"When things start growing back it's that renewal of life that everyone just gets excited about."
While the ash on the sand and burnt-out bushes were stark reminders of the devastation that passed through the area over the new year, on Thursday surfers had returned to the water at Broulee beach and families were again splashing around at Candlagan Creek.
Canberran Eddy Jausnik came to Broulee with his family on Thursday to support the region.
"The road's open and I thought it was a good chance to come down, have fish and chips, and spend some money," he said.
He posted on Instagram under the tag #bayforaday, hoping to encourage other Canberrans to visit.
Mr Jausnik said his kids were excited to be at the beach, but were a little upset when they drove through the Clyde Mountain and could see the impact of the fires.
"It really hit them then. We stopped on Pooh's Corner and saw how close it came and I think it hit them. But they're fine now and enjoying a swim."
Before the new year, the Rural Fire Service had asked people to reconsider their need to travel to the South Coast. After the fires tore through the South Coast on New Year's Eve, tourists were told to leave.
The service said about 450 homes had been destroyed on the South Coast since New Year's Eve.
The fire reached the industrial area of Batemans Bay but suburban areas were spared.
But nearby towns to the south including Malua Bay, Rosedale and Mogo were hit hard.