"ONWARDS and upwards, bigger and better isn't that what they say?"
For someone who's been through more than their fair share of natural disasters during the last few years, Karen Butcher is remarkably upbeat.
Along with husband Stephen they own two bakeries in Lismore in NSW's Northern Rivers, but during recent years the town has faced bushfires and floods that have ripped the heart from residents and all but destroyed the local economy.
"This has affected every person in one way or another, whether it's their house, job or whatever," Mrs Butcher said.
The floods caused devastating damage to many local properties, and the couple had no choice but to throw out the bakery's automated machine that cost $250,000 after it was ruined by floodwaters.
Large parts of Lismore may have been left in ruins, but the couple's love for their town and its community meant they were never about to move away.
Since they reopened in mid July they've had queues of hungry customers lined up out the door every single day.
"We're 20 deep inside and 20 deep outside on the street," Mrs Butcher said.
"The customers they walk in and they say 'thank you' or 'thank you for coming back'. It's just been amazing. Even people we haven't had before, they're coming in and they're thanking us for giving Lismore another go.
"They're actually stopping to talk to you, they're not just coming in and getting it and saying 'see you later'. Now you're forming a friendship, it's just amazing."
Using local tradies and businesses was absolutely vital when their bakeries were being rebuilt after the flood, Mr Butcher said.
"That's why we've succeeded rebuilding in the timeframe that we had, it's because tradies supported us," he said.
The couple are not unique in that respect, with 83 per cent of Heartbeat of Australia Survey respondents saying they shop locally and support local businesses.
"I find our local businesses far easier to get any response out of than the big companies, whether it be a car manufacturer or a machine manufacturer."
The vast majority (79 per cent) of Aussies say their community is a great place to live, and despite the fires and floods Mrs Butcher agrees wholeheartedly.
"Everyone's realised that you've got to rally together to keep the town going. I think we used to take things for granted, it really puts things in perspective," she said. "I feel very positive about the future."
A healthy diet of information is essential to an individuals' and communities' social wellbeing. The Heartbeat survey revealed that 88 per cent of people access news because it helps them feel connected to their community. Also, that they are much more likely to feel satisfied with their life, compared to those who do not access news (67 per cent) for this reason.
Recently, Mr Butcher spoke to his local ACM newspaper, Lismore City News, about the $800,000 cost to rebuild after the floods. He saw value in sharing his story with locals in his local newspaper, and through that also had the opportunity to help inform NSW premier Dominic Perrottet about how his local town had struggled in the aftermath of the floods.
"This flood is worse than we've ever seen and probably as bad as we'll ever see," Mr Butcher told ACM.
Despite all the hard times, the couple say it's Lismore's community, local sport, the opportunities and of course their family are great reasons to call this northern NSW town home.
Oh, and if you're ever in Lismore make sure you drop into one of their bakeries - Southside Hot Bread or Plateau Bakery at Alstonville - the pies are to die for and don't miss trying their vanilla slice, but make sure you get in early as they sell a full tray every single day.
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