Braidwood business has borne the brunt of the summer bushfires. The town has always been just that little bit remote, but the closure of the Kings Highway was akin to cutting an artery for the rural economy.
Prolonged drought had already put a dent in the local economy, along with a Telstra outage over the Braidwood Festival weekend. Then Braidwood became a cul-de-sac when the road closed and business really fell away.
After a brutal summer, business in back in Braidwood. Our news update for this week comes from the little town with a huge heart, where locals are working to make this weekend a celebration of community spirit that welcomes friends from Canberra and across the region. We're also talking about Royal Commissions, back burning and the January rental squeeze.
Posted by The RiotACT on Thursday, 23 January 2020
Like many towns on the south coast, Braidwood put out the call for people to come and support the town, and they did come. Car clubs and day-trippers came in groups to have lunch and shop. The goodwill and affection towards the town was evident from Canberrans who have stopped on the way to the coast.
When the North Black Range Fire started way back on 26 November, many in the community donned their RFS uniforms and went out to fight it. Some are only just back in their businesses but remain alert as there is still plenty of hot weather to come.
Local jeweller William Verdon lives at Mongarlowe. As an RFS member, he has had only five days in his shop since late November. The manufacturing jeweller left the shop in the hands of his recently graduated and talented young apprentice Logan Preston.
William is typical of many in rural communities who drop everything and answer the call to volunteer with the RFS or SES to keep their community safe.
When the Kings Highway was still closed, the Braidwood Chamber of Commerce organised a big Australia Day long weekend for Braidwood promoted as “BRAIDWOOD – More than a cul-de-sac”.
Braidwood’s many independent and family-owned stores are opening their arms to welcome visitors over the long weekend.
“The aim is to have something for everyone,” says Braidwood Business Chamber Chair, Suzanne Gearing.
“Children can join the busking competition and follow a scavenger hunt, there are shopping trails with the chance to win a box full of Braidwood gifts, musos can busk and vie for a trophy, or you can buy a firie a beer at the pub.”
As well as the markets in Ryrie Park on Saturday, there are art galleries and boutique shops throughout town.
The bi-annual Braidwood Book Fair will be held in the National Theatre all weekend with an enormous range of books to choose from.
On Sunday for Australia Day, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council will host an event at the Braidwood Servicemen’s Club from noon paying special tribute to the efforts of firefighters, the Rural Fire Service, emergency control centre staff, heavy vehicle drivers who built containment lines, water tanker drivers who supplied water to firefighters, an army of support volunteers and many more.
Along with the many generous members of the community who donated time, money or goods to support fire-affected residents and wildlife, they all have good reason to celebrate their achievements this Australia Day. Local Australia Day awards will be announced at the lunchtime event in Braidwood.
But wait … there’s more! This year’s Australia Day ambassador for Queanbeyan-Palerang is Tim Shaw. Tim’s widely known for popularising the advertising catchphrase ‘but wait, there’s more’, but there’s more to Tim than just a memorable catchphrase.
Tim is an award-winning Australian and international journalist, host, presenter, commentator, producer, MC and keynote speaker. He is a member of the federal parliamentary press gallery, and a board member and director of The National Press Club of Australia.
On Sunday night, with Canberra’s own “ol’ blue eyes” Tony Haley will perform free of charge at the Braidwood Servicemen’s Club. Tony performs the songs of Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Johnny Cash, Bobby Darin and many others.
“It’s a great opportunity to head into town with your caravan and campervan, stay Sunday night at the Club and then spend a lazy day wandering the trails in Braidwood or testing your skills on the golf course,” enthuses Chamber treasurer Neil White, “and the pubs have some great entertainment planned as well.”