FOR Belinda Colless running a small business in a small community is not all about making money and taking it.
“You have to stick with and by your community in the bad times as well as the good,” she said.
“We’re all in this (drought) together.”
Ms Colless said that while it would rain one day the town’s businesses can do their little bit to support the people affected by the extended dry “as we know they support us”.
A grants writer these days is what Ms Colless describes her “real” job, done after-hours at home.
“The beauty of running a small business is that I go home and and get stuck into my professional grants writing not only for this community’s organisations, but those from throughout the state,” she said.
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“We’re not making a lot of money in the coffee shop, but we are employing people, and that’s important, plus we’re having fun.”
Belinda Colless’ introduction to Brewarrina was close to 10 years ago when she took up a maternity leave position at the shire council which was to last six months.
The Walgett girl was working in Dubbo for the area consultative committee’s regional partnerships program.
“It was just after the 2007 federal election and government was in caretaker mode,” she said.
Instead of hanging around Ms Colless took on the Brewarrina council job, which ended up being a nine year stint.
Six months ago she thought about buying the coffee shop, but instead took out a lease and now employs many people including several mums who can’t work full time.
“We are just trying to create a place where I feel it is an extension of my kitchen, as I want people to come in and feel welcome; no hurry, no rush,” she said.
The atmosphere is so pleasant, Ms Colless says there are customers who now bring their plates and cups back when the shop’s busy, and even jump in and do some of the washing-up.
“We put tables together which forces people to sit together and have conversations.
“It sounds kind of crazy, but there’s a lot of people in regional communities who don’t connect.”
Ms Colless says particularly blokes, who always seem to be on a mission.
“They have a purpose; a quick duck into town to grad a couple of ‘urgently’ needed things, and then off they go,” she said.
So the shop tries firstly, to offer good coffee, then provide an outlet that’s not a pub but somewhere people can go.
“Maybe to transact business at our tables, or just soak up some relaxation.
“It’s really important that people do have somewhere they can go, because, gee-whiz, it can be awfully lonely.”
Ms Colless said the relaxing activities she and her other town business friends have been offering with several other activities planned in the future for people needing an “out” was their way to assist families within the grips of the present drought.
Just our way of helping
Another of the three ladies within the Brewarrina business community who has jumped at the chance to help families during this prolonged dry is Richelle Codrington, who works at Schute Bell Badgery Lumby, a business which also opened in November 2013.
They call themselves “three birds and a bloke” being Schute Bell, Macdonald Rural, Muddy Waters Coffee Shop and the Friendly Grocer.
“There’s not many businesses left in town, so we are possibly the four major ones still here,” she said.
“So helping is just our way of getting together to organise some events where families or people, either men or women, can attend and maybe forget and leave behind the worries for at least a few hours.”
A Nyngan girl, Mrs Codrington’s husband, Dallas, manages a 92,000 hectare beef breeding and grazing aggregation north of town towards Goodooga, and is also feeding upwards of 4000 head of Angus.
“We received about 60 millimetres of rain in that last fall a few weeks back which tallied as the last three years’ total combined,” she said.
“My husband had sown some 1000ha of wheat and barley which has been going well, but need rain now to give it a boost.”
Their daughter, Mackinley, has done well with her education through the School of Distance Education.
Now in Year 12, “Macka”, has studied through this system for the past six years.
“She began distance ed in years three and four, then attended school at Carinda for years five and six when we were at “Brewon”, Mrs Codrington said.
“Since we moved she continued from Year 7 through the Dubbo school and is now nearly at the end of her schooling life.”
Mrs Codrington said Macka had dreams to study pharmacy.
“She’s very academic and very sporty as well,” she said.
“We travel around when we can and she and Dallas compete in shotgun shooting.
“Macka has represented NSW and Western Zone in shotgun shooting often.”