Hope for Walcha businesses out-of-pocket due to recent road closures and bushfires

General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, CVO, MC with Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes in Canberra recently
General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, CVO, MC with Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes in Canberra recently

Walcha Mayor Eric Noakes joined a delegation of representatives from bushfire affected council from across Australia on a trip to Canberra recently to meet with General Sir Peter Cosgrove.

"The session was to determine what is required to revitalise and stimulate businesses that have been impacted by the spate of bushfires," Mr Noakes said.

"While no local businesses were directly impacted by these fires, the financial implications of road closures on top of the drought impacts will leave income never to be recovered."

During the usually busy November/December holiday period the Oxley Highway was closed for over two months and Thunderbolts Way for three weeks, and this has had a considerable impact on tourism and the local retail economy according to Walcha Tourism manager Susie Crawford.

"People are reporting business being down 60 to 80 per cent on previous years during that period," Mrs Crawford said.

"Our walk-in information numbers were down 34 per cent in September and December."

People are reporting business being down 60 to 80 per cent on previous years

Walcha Tourism manager Susie Crawford

Mrs Crawford also said walk-ins were down a staggering 93 per cent in November once Motorbike Festival attendees were excluded.

"Presently there is no grant assistance available to retail businesses even though it exists for primary producers," Mr Noakes said.

"We are following up on this and pushing for some assistance to be available. The criteria for grants is a changing environment, and if enough councils keep pushing, we may have a favourable outcome."