On May 16, a fire tore through Saddleworth Foodworks, leaving the town without a supermarket.
Now, residents are being encouraged to look at what the town still has to offer – rather than dwelling on what is lost – and to celebrate the strong, proud and supportive community which has worked together to restore pride in its town.
In the weeks and months since the fire, the community and businesses of Saddleworth have rallied together.
Businesses have generously offered to order in and stock extra food and household items – Willis Café, AW Vater and Co and Saddleworth Meats are just some of those businesses.
Willis Café’s Brian Willis said he had started by asking people to give him their shopping lists, and he was slowly trying to get things in to cover the basics.
“We still have a butcher, two machinery dealerships, ag merchandise, a Post Office which includes all banking facilities, a takeaway/general store keeping basic grocery needs, chemist, hotel, mechanical repairs, op shop, antique shops, gift shop, service station, museum, Council office and library plus many other Saddleworth-based businesses – we still have 32-plus in total,” community member Sue Humphrys said.
“Not to forget our caravan park which is in the process of installing a dump point and Winkler Park just a short walk south of the town.”
And some exciting social events are being planned to revive the town’s sense of community.
“As an example of our community involvement we are having regular bands at Gilbert Valley Hotel the last Sunday of each month from 2pm,” Sue said.
“There is the Museum 50’s Fashion Parade and cake competition on October 16, a monthly CWA luncheon starting on October 26, the “Pink Butchers” initiative, a breast cancer fundraiser in October and the Christmas carnival on December 10 at Saddleworth recreational grounds.”
Gilbert Valley CWA’s Joy Williams said its monthly luncheon would be an opportunity for the community to get together at the Saddleworth Institute.
“We’re thinking of doing a questionnaire at the first one to see what people would like us to do (at later luncheons),” she said.
The museum’s 50’s Fashion Parade will display a “wonderful array of vintage clothing”, according to organiser Meron Lewcock.
“There is also a cake competition judged by the local ladies – and we’ll have the cake for supper, so you can have your cake and eat it too!” she said.
There will also be games and door prizes, and a competition for the best decorated milk arrowroot biscuit for the children.