An aspiring entrepreneur whose building and business dream "nearly got blown away by a one-in-100-year cyclone" that hit Nevertire in December is in with a chance at winning a big break.
Kat Porter was planning the renovation of an abandoned old store in the small village for her start-up The Rural Trader when a fierce storm caused significant damage 10 months ago.
She refused to be beaten, launching into clean-up and modifying her coffee and giftwares concept to include a multipurpose space the community could also use.
Ms Porter shared all her plans in a pitch to the inaugural Buy From The Bush Big Break with its $60,000 prize pool, and placed as one of the top 20 shortlisted entries.
The Rural Trader and Dubbo's The Exchange are the two hopefuls from the Orana region in the contest, which is offering the winner $30,000 plus a business pack to get their idea off the ground.
Either one could also win the people's choice award, which has a $15,000 prize, with voting to close at 11.59pm on Sunday.
Ms Porter, who is also planning her New Year's Eve wedding with fiance and Nevertire farmer Tod Montgomery, said she was "absolutely overwhelmed" to have her entry shortlisted.
Her pitch for the competition run by Buy From The Bush in partnership with PayPal Australia was a last-minute decision, encouraged by people around her, she said.
The past 10 months had involved getting all the insurance matters sorted and "cleaning everything up, because it was an absolute mess", Ms Porter said.
The storm destroyed one of the buildings, forcing change to the original concept, and the start-up founder, who previously lived and worked in Dubbo, modified her concept to have a more multipurpose space.
A full commercial kitchen was an addition to the earlier version of the plan, she said.
"I want other people to be able to utilise the space just as much as I'm utilising the space for my own business," Ms Porter said.
Winning would make a huge difference.
[It] would enable me to put a roof on my shop, because right now, I have holes in the roof where the rain is coming in.The Rural Trader founder Kat Porter
"[It] would enable me to put a roof on my shop, because right now, I have holes in the roof where the rain is coming in," Ms Porter said.
"So that would be a massive, massive thing for me to get a roof over our heads, so to speak, or to invest in running a workshop, or a community group to run some kind of seminar, or us to do some kind of creative activity within the community."
Even before the competition ends, it's brought positive results to the candle maker.
Her Instagram reel for the competition was nearing 27,500 views, when her reels normally reached somewhere between 2000 and 3000 views, Ms Porter said.
"I've gained something like 500 followers in two weeks, and my orders, I've literally had orders coming out of my ears, whether that's wholesale or just buying from our website, it has just been astronomical," she said.
"Regardless of if I win or not, I 100 per cent am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do this, because it has 100 per cent improved, increased my exposure and people's awareness of what I'm doing, which I think is incredible, so I'm very grateful."