It will be at least a year before both lanes of Armidale Road in the Macleay Valley hinterland on the New South Wales Mid North Coast are open.
This imposition comes after a landslip and subsequent road closure isolated the village of Bellbrook and its 300 residents from Kempsey for about a week in early January.
One lane of the road at Devils Nook was cleared and reopened a week ago, but Kempsey Shire Council said it would be 12 months before a solution was found and implemented.
Bellbrook pub owner Shirley Smart said the limited road access was the latest setback for the village.
"With drought, fires, floods, COVID and landslides, we are starting to call ourselves the capital of the 'New South Wales Natural Disaster Area', because we've been hit with everything," she said.
"I don't think there's anything left to hit us with."
Ms Smart said the community's high hopes for the new year were on the wane.
"We were hoping 2021 was going to be our year, but I don't think it's looking that way," she said.
"I think it will be a struggle if they don't open [Armidale Road] up properly."
Fears rain could worsen problem
Kempsey Shire Council's manager for infrastructure delivery, Dylan Reeves, said there was a possibility the landslip could fall again if the region received significant rainfall.
"There is the potential that more wet weather could produce more rock," Mr Reeves said.
"However, we do want the slip to be exposed to some further wet weather events just to give us comfort over the coming weeks that nothing further will change on the site.
"We are highly confident that the controls we have in place will protect the travelling public and their safety."
Mr Reeves said the partial closure of Armidale Road was unavoidable.
"Due to the complexity of the slip that occurred, it is the best of what we're able to deliver at this point in time," he said.
"We'll be working as quickly as we possibly can to develop the preferred solution — however, we do have to make sure that the safety of the public and the staff that will be working on the job site are upheld.
"We're making sure that the right long-term decision is made so the solution is a long term permanent one."
Ms Smart said the village was resilient.
"The road is an ongoing issue, but we all love Bellbrook," she said.
"When we first bought the pub three and a half years ago, we found that the people here are amazing — and over the last three years they've all been through a lot.
"But they're survivors out here, they've been through worse than this."ABC