The burnt remains of the three businesses which were destroyed by fire last Tuesday. Photo: Simon Scott Photography

 The burnt remains of the three businesses which were destroyed by fire last Tuesday. Photo: Simon Scott Photography

The Mungindi community is beginning to get back on its feet following last week’s devastating fire, with donations and support from all over the country flooding in to help the town in its recovery.

“I think everyone’s just dusted off and re-energised,” Mungindi Progress Association president Anna Harrison said.

“We can see that there’s hope now.”

In just four days, more than $100,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page set up by the Mungindi Progress Association to support the owners of the three businesses which were destroyed by last Tuesday’s blaze – Spar Supermarket, Red’s Quality Meats and PJ’s Country Wares.

“It’s so incredible,” Ms Harrison said.

“It really just shows how important those businesses were to our town.

“It’s not just locals who have been donating either – it’s people who grew up in Mungindi, people who have visited, or people who have family and friends in town.

“The support has been amazing and just goes to show how much people loved those three businesses.”

All money raised through the GoFundMe will be split equally between the three businesses, to help compensate the owners on their loss.

“The Progress Association has already transferred some money to those business owners to help them now … we just wanted them to have that support and know they were valued,” Ms Harrison said.

“The main street is not the same without them.”

Meanwhile, the community is in the process of setting up a temporary supermarket in the former RSL Club building, thanks to $100,000 in emergency funding from the state government.

Ms Harrison said the pop-up store should be open by the end of this week, with shelving and stock arriving in the coming days.

“It’s so important that we get this supermarket up and running as soon as possible, just to get that confidence back in the community,” she said.

“If you lose your supermarket in these small towns, you worry about the risk of what it does to other shops in town when people have to travel to do their grocery shopping.

“There was also a lot of angst coming into our first harvest in three years – a lot of people were worried about how they’d feed their workers.

“Plus for towns like these, a supermarket is a meeting place. Everyone would go down the street on Saturday morning and it’d be a time to connect. During the drought, those businesses were imperative for people’s mental health.”

While the temporary supermarket is still being set-up, Mungindi residents have been able to access food and essential supplies thanks to deliveries from Moree and Goondiwindi businesses.

Foodbank NSW delivered a truckload of food and personal care hampers to the community on Friday.

The Mungindi Service Station and Shafay’s Cafe have also stocked up on grocery supplies, and Mungindi Progress Association encourages residents to support local businesses first.

“We want people to shop locally,” Ms Harrison said.

Mungindi residents can now also come to Moree to shop, after the Queensland government extended the border bubble to include Moree on Friday.

Ms Harrison said the inclusion of Moree in the border bubble is a win for the Mungindi community, but she believes it’s time to start reopening the border and “getting things going again”.

“It’s just been an absolute headache for our community,” she said.

While the Progress Association has been focused on getting the pop-up supermarket up and running, they’ve also been committed to finding work for the employees who lost their jobs as a result of the fire.

The two permanent employees from Spar Supermarket have now been employed by the Mungindi Progress Association to work in the pop-up store, while it’s hoped the two backpackers have been able to find work on a local property. One of the two employees from PJ’s Country Wares will also work in the pop-up supermarket. Red, the owner/operator of Red’s Quality Meats is also being looked after.

Ms Harrison said the loss of all three businesses has been a huge blow to the community.

“A butchers and supermarket are your hub,” she said.

“And PJ’s – we called it the DJ’s in the bush – you could get everything there. We were so lucky for so long to have such amazing shops.

“But we’re a bloody tough little community and we’ll get through it.”

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