Bluff loses a piece of its his­tory

Fire leaves lo­cal shop de­stroyed

Central Queensland News - - FRONT PAGE - Kris­ten Booth Kris­ten.Booth@cqnews.com.au

A SUS­PI­CIOUS fire de­stroyed the main store in the town of Bluff on Sun­day morn­ing, tak­ing some of the town’s pre­cious his­tory with it.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called to the Bluff Fam­ily Store on Main St at 2.47am fol­low­ing re­ports of a fire.

On ar­rival, the struc­ture was well alight. Fire crews fought the blaze for sev­eral hours to pre­vent it spread­ing to neigh­bour­ing build­ings.

They ex­tin­guished the blaze at about 5am and the ex­tent of the de­struc­tion was re­vealed, with ma­jor dam­age to the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of the business.

Cur­rent owner of the store, John Parker, said its loss would def­i­nitely be felt by the lo­cals.

“It’s go­ing to hurt a bit con­ve­nience-wise; the clos­est shops here are Black­wa­ter,” he said.

He and his wife Adelle bought the shop about five years ago when they moved to Bluff for work.

Mr Parker, who now lives near Rock­hamp­ton, orig­i­nally bought the store to give his wife a job while he worked in the mines.

The store was the main stop in the town.

“Peo­ple from Black­wa­ter used to come out here just to buy a burger for lunch,” he said.

“The town is very for­tu­nate that the fire was con­fined to where it was.

“I am sur­prised that the neigh­bours are still there and the house next door. It’s un­be­liev­able.”

Liz McGrath has lived in Bluff for 34 years, and has been an in­te­gral part of the Bluff Fam­ily Store.

Mrs McGrath was em­ployed by the store own­ers for at least 12 years and said, through­out that time, she re­ally saw how the store was the corner­stone of the town.

“It was where peo­ple met and where you got parcels de­liv­ered,” she said.

“It was a drop-off point, it was a meet­ing point, it was where the kids would come af­ter school to get their 20 cents worth of lol­lies.

“That will be sadly missed from all the gen­er­a­tions that used to visit it – grand­fa­thers down to their chil­dren.

“A lot of the newer peo­ple in town prob­a­bly wouldn’t have had a lot of the ben­e­fit of the shop like the older ones here.

“It used to be a video store, it’s a restau­rant, it sold fuel, gro­ceries – there were some older peo­ple here that used to buy all their gro­ceries from the store.

“You re­ally didn’t need to leave town at all.”

Be­com­ing as close as fam­ily, Mrs McGrath said it barely felt like go­ing to work, but rather go­ing to a so­cial out­ing with a group of friends.

“We had awe­some cus­tomers in gen­eral and the peo­ple that used to come in were more like friends than cus­tomers. It was al­most a so­cial out­ing go­ing to work,” she said.

“The at­mos­phere there, it was like an old-fash­ioned fam­ily store, it re­ally was, and those of us that ran it were like fam­ily. The at­mos­phere was just awe­some.”

Mrs McGrath said the im­pact of the loss would be huge for the whole com­mu­nity.

“It will be more than peo­ple re­alise.

“For bread and milk, res­i­dents now have to do a 42km round trip to Black­wa­ter,” she said.

“Ob­vi­ously we’ll find ways around it, but you’ll just have to shop a lit­tle dif­fer­ently and, when you

That will be sadly missed from all the gen­er­a­tions that used to visit. — Liz McGrath

PHOTO: KRIS­TEN BOOTH

DEV­AS­TAT­ING LOSS: Bluff Fam­ily Store owner John Parker goes through what is left of the store, af­ter a sus­pi­cious fire de­stroyed the premises on Sun­day morn­ing, De­cem­ber 3.

PHOTO: QPS

IN­FERNO: A fire de­stroyed a store in Bluff yes­ter­day morn­ing. Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sus­pi­cious blaze.

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