Murrurundi business owners still pushing on after drought, Level 6 water restrictions, COVID-19

David and Kerry Darcy out the front of Darcy and the Fox. Photo: supplied

David and Kerry Darcy out the front of Darcy and the Fox. Photo: supplied

BATTLING through drought, Level 6 water restrictions, and now COVID-19, Murrurundi business owners could be considered some of the most resilient in the country.

There aren't many physical shop fronts in the small town anymore, but those that are left are fighting hard to keep their doors open.

Nelliebelle's Cakes and Bakes owner Margie Cooper had to shut her doors for 10-and-a-half weeks due to COVID-19, but she said business had been steady since reopening at the start of June.

Now that things are starting to reignite again, though, she has noticed a change.

"It's dropped off a bit, there's not as much traffic," Ms Cooper said.

"If they restrict regional travel again, I think we'll be in trouble but I hope it doesn't come down to that."

White Hart Hotel owner Kylie Arnold-Cross is in the same boat.

"The new COVID spike is starting to affect things a little bit. It's hit that stalemate of not improving anymore," she said.

"It's a process that we've got to go through ... it's just steps we have to take."

Luckily, the situation isn't dire for either of them, and they're still pushing forward.

It's a similar story for Deb Callinan, who owns Mayne Street store, Adawn.

"It's been a challenge, with a capital C," Ms Callinan told ACM.

But, she said Buy from the Bush and supporting local had been a great help to her.

"People seem to have pride in supporting small businesses and feel that they're making a difference with small communities," she said.

"I've been well supported so I feel very grateful. I have lovely local support and I'm well supported by people travelling through as well."

Adawn store owner Deb Callinan is grateful the doors of her business are still open after some tough few years. Photo: supplied

Adawn store owner Deb Callinan is grateful the doors of her business are still open after some tough few years. Photo: supplied

Upper Hunter Shire Council's manager of business services David Gatwood said the council was also supporting the shire's businesses through its 'We Live Here' campaign.

This was first launched in 2018 when the drought was at its peak, but a new website and Facebook group was launched about six months ago as a COVID-19 response.

"We've taken [We Live Here] to the next stage which is to launch a dedicated website, where businesses have a listing and advertise their products and services," Mr Gatwood said.

"There's also a closed Facebook group which is only for small businesses across the Upper Hunter ... it's a community forum for businesses.

"Some are going through very tough times, so it's very important not to feel isolated and alone."

Mr Gatwood said he had "nothing but admiration" for Murrurundi's business owners.

"I think once we get through whatever the next phase is, it's going to be a fantastic opportunity for Murrurundi to grow and prosper," he said.

"Murrurundi is certainly a town that is seen as an art-centric town; we've got a number of artists in residence that are both nationally and internationally-acclaimed and that is becoming increasingly important for the tourism that is coming through.

"If you're travelling on the New England Highway, it's a very interesting place to call into."

White Hart Hotel owner Kylie Arnold-Cross pours a beer. Photo: supplied

White Hart Hotel owner Kylie Arnold-Cross pours a beer. Photo: supplied

Many travellers have been calling into art gallery Darcy and the Fox, which owner David Darcy is "pleasantly surprised" by.

"There's been quite a lot of people coming through, a lot of day trippers from Newcastle," he said.

"We had apprehensions of how it was going to be [when we reopened], but people are wanting to get out and about, [and] they've also been spending.

"Murrurundi, being a bit of a weekend destination, means most businesses are closed through the week and weekend is prime trading times."

All businesses featured in this story have Facebook pages to check out their individual opening times to support local.