FIRST LOOK: Tour of new rooms at Yamba Central
FOR Shane Henwood and his family, it's like starting all over again.
With their iconic Yamba Backpackers devastated by COVID after almost 12 years of success, they risked it all and changed the direction of the business.
The Yamba Backpackers is now Yamba Central, and the first stage of the redevelopment has opened, with rooms renovated to a motel/hotel style catering for the domestic market.
"It's a brand new look on our building," Mr Henwood said. "We've had to go through and change our whole idea, coming from backpackers to what we're doing now.
"It's scary and fun - it was like when we opened the Backpackers in 2008 in the worst financial crisis ever - we're doing it again."
The renovated rooms include eight ensuite rooms perfect for overnight stays, and 12 more rooms ranging from four-share communal style to large family rooms.
The rooms are taking bookings now in preparation for the holiday season, and Mr Henwood said the local support had been amazing.
"The locals have been great. They understand we went from a backpacker business that was running well to having no backpackers, and they've really helped us," he said.
"Especially with our GoFundMe account, thank you very much to everyone who's helped, it's been great."
The next stage of development will be the construction of an outdoor street deck that Mr Henwood said he'd like to see more of in the Yamba streetscape.
"It's a beautiful deck," he said. "It will really set off the street and make it have new life.
"We're just waiting on the final approvals to be finished."
The final piece of their plan will be the creation of the Wobbly Chook brewery to revamp their downstairs area which, Mr Henwood said, if plans fell into place it would be ready by December.
"It is a big change, and I think it's going to be great for our," he said.
"For our family it's new, it's something different, and we're still going."