Little town that ‘copped a hiding’ in the fires fights back
BONALBO has seen a tough couple of years, ravaged by drought, bushfire and COVID-19 but it’s finally “bouncing back”.
Kyogle Council received a $1.3 million federal bushfire recovery grant to assist with businesses and community groups throughout the district impacted by the devastation over the summer.
Councillor Earle Gundy said the funding was given to businesses struggling to get back on their feet after a horrific few years.
“You have a drought for four years, you have a bushfire for six months that burns half the district and then you have COVID-19 virus that stops tourism and everything else, Cr Gundy said.
“The idea was to get them going again after they’d copped a hiding from the fires.
“Even if the fire didn’t burn Bonalbo, people couldn’t get into Bonalbo because of the fires, there were restrictions on movement and people were at home fighting fires.
“Business was affected quite heavily in places.
“The federal government gave us that money, we went to businesses and told them about it and asked them what projects they needed doing.”
The Bonalbo FRS were part of the long list of groups and businesses given funding, having received $21,610 to build a demountable training and operations room.
Bonalbo RFS captain John Tart said the new training rooms would provide flood-free space to store food and create a space for the crew to come together throughout the year.
He said he hoped the extra training facility would encourage others to join the brigade.
“We’ve been really short on crew, we just got four new people have just finished their basic firefighter,” Mr Tart said.
“We’re up to about 10 or 12 on firefighter crew now.”
Page MP Kevin Hogan said the Bonalbo businesses that benefited from the grant funding included local service station, the post office, the hardware store and the bowling club.
“The recent bushfires devastated our community and it is important we rebuild together,” he said.
“This funding will provide much needed economic stimulus to our businesses and organisations.”