Visitors encouraged to help bushfire recovery in Huon Valley
WHEN times are tough, Tasmanians pull together.
This resilience was on show with the remarkable community spirit in the Huon Valley as bushfires threatened homes, farms and communities.
FIRE-HIT COMMUNITIES PLEAD: PLEASE PAY US A VISIT
A senior Geeveston resident was seen dropping off biscuits to fireys at the local station.
A supermarket owner opened his shelves to fire crews to take “whatever they needed”.
And a local hotel owner cooked dinner for fire crews nightly after they returned from the frontline after midnight.
The generosity has grown so much so that it has prompted the Tasmania Fire Service to call on Tasmanians to stop food and drink donations and instead give money to the Vinnie’s Bushfire Appeal.
“We understand people like to help,” the TFS wrote on Facebook.
“The best thing you can do to help us is to donate directly to the bushfire appeal and help those who need it most.”
The Riveaux Rd fire, which started near Geeveston on January 16, may have eased but its impact on local businesses continues.
At the height of the fire threat, most of Geeveston’s residents had to take shelter at the evacuation centre in Huonville or seek alternative accommodation.
The bushfire is still active in the southwest but has been downgraded to Advice level.
Roads have reopened and while many families have been able to return home, business operators say there are less people in the area.
Shop owners are saying a visit to Huon Valley towns – and the purchase of a coffee, beer, or a meal — will be a boost to the recovery.
Joanna Jablonka kept the doors of the Kermandie Waterfront Hotel, at Port Huon, open during the fires but said trading had slowed.
She said some days’ takings were down 80 per cent compared to this time last year when the Huon would have been busy with summer visitors.
“We just want people to know that we’re here. We’re open and we’re sticking around,” she said.
“The huge economic toll is something that most people don’t always see, but the impact is very real.
“It’s got a lot of the town’s business owners, like myself, worried about how we’ll get through the next few months, with the business itself and our personal lives.”
Ms Jablonka, who took over the hotel with her partner 18 months ago, said Tasmanians could support the Huon Valley by paying a visit and helping a depleted economy.
Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders said she would be a voice for local businesses and community groups in the fight for government funding.
(BUSINESS HOURS IF NEEDED) - Kermandie Waterside Hotel
Lunch 12pm – 2.30pm
Dinner 5.30pm – 8.30pm
Bar 11am – late.
Bottle shop 10am – 8.30pm
Originally published as ’We’re here. We’re open and we’re sticking around’