After coming up to two years of running Pooncarie's watering hole, The Pooncarie Telegraph Hotel, Dan and Caitlin Powe have heard plenty of tales and seen some great displays of friendship in the small town.
And with road upgrades expected to boost tourist numbers and school enrolments also on the rise, there's a feeling of optimism throughout the area.
The couple had been running a cafe in Broken Hill, but towards the end of the lease the landlords started to renovate and they were unable to keep the doors open.
"We thought Pooncarie was a really good spot to bring up children - we've got the school just down the road," he said.
"It's a fantastic lifestyle with brilliant locals. Everything just suited our needs."
They moved to Pooncarie on December 1, 2021. The couple have two children aged four and two, and the growth of the school was particularly exciting, Mr Powe said.
"There's 11 or 12 kids enrolled in the preschool and next year they've got I think it's seven or eight enrolled in the primary school which is absolutely terrific," he said.
"Of the seven or eight kids, most of them have a little brother or sister.
"So in another roughly four to five years time that school is going to have a lot of children, which is brilliant."
The Pooncarie Road, which stretches north from the town up to Menindee, is in the process of being sealed and will offer an alternative for tourists travelling from Broken Hill to Mildura.
Work on the road is expected to be completed next year.
Mr Powe expected it would bring more business to the town, as the route through Pooncarie allowed travellers to follow the river and also offered access to the World Heritage Listed Mungo National Park.
The town typically welcomed caravaners throughout winter and fishermen during summer, and the pub's rooms could host anyone from station contractors to tourists, pilots, through to visiting scientists.
There was also talk of getting a laundromat in the town to cater for tourists, he said.
The pub remained an important meeting point for locals and travellers and working behind the bar he was able to have some fascinating conversations.
"If you draw a 50 kilometre radius around the pub you hit eight or nine different stations," he said.
"Having the pub in the centre you can bring everyone into the one spot.
"You get them all in here and just seeing those friendships in this pub, and the stories that they tell and the work that they do, it's brilliant, it's absolutely brilliant to be a part of it."
Tales from travellers were no less interesting, with people coming from all over Australia to stop in the riverside town.
"You get to find out all sorts of fascinating things people have done with their careers, how they've wound up coming to Pooncarie in the first place and the trip that they were on or the adventure," he said.
"They could be on the Darling River Run, or the Burke and Wills Trail, or on a fishing trip.
"Even those guys, the different trades and the different jobs they do, where they're from and the different areas, they literally come from all around the country to Pooncarie - it's pretty wild."
He said the locals were always accommodating - "the kind of people that would do anything for anyone without a second thought."
"We had a guy that was from Queensland and was following the Darling River - he was coming down from Menindee and the axle on his caravan broke. He was only about 15kms out of town and by the time he got here it wasn't very good," he said.
"One of the locals is a builder by trade... he said to this guy, 'mate, my house is only 20kms up the road, I'll grab my welding gear and come back with some steel and I'll fix her up for you'.
"The coolest part was that when the guy got back to Queensland actually rang me to let me know he'd made it back - the caravan was still intact and nothing had broken.
"He just wanted to thank the local for helping him out and for doing what he did - it was really, really nice."
Going forward, the pair were in the process of upgrading to a solid roof over the beer garden to make it suitable for outdoor functions.
They share the workload and also have help from Caitlin's mum, a nearby station owner and a neighbour, who were all instrumental in keeping everything ticking over, he said.
"Having that help, you really couldn't ask for more," he said.
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