Mulwala businesses’ biggest battle

By Yarrawonga Chronicle

Mulwala businesses continue to battle the effects of the cross-border closure and will now also feel the effect of Stage 3 rectrictions in regional Victoria. 

Yarrawonga Manufactured Housing (YMH), a large local manufacturing business based in Mulwala that builds homes and cabins for clients up and down the east coast of Australia, is hurting as a result of the current border closure.

Managing Director Nathan Tresize said getting to complete some jobs has been difficult with one contract in the Yarra Valley needing only a small amount of work to be completed since March.

“We have also had some jobs that have been put on hold as many of our clients are tourism related such as caravan and holiday parks.

“We saw some momentum, and NSW is going along OK but there is no one in the parks around Melbourne and that affects us.”

Mr Tresize said the progressive company has enough work in the pipeline for now but the longer the border closures and lockdown restrictions go the harder it gets.

“It’s a concern for everyone.”

Kira Smith from Blend Studio Hair and Beauty has remained open throughout the whole COVID-19 pandemic but is now struggling with the most recent restrictions. 

“It has been extremely hard time for everyone,” Kira said. 

“We stayed open throughout the entire time but last week we were dealt a big blow and by we I mean Mulwala business and many other bordering towns. 

“At my salon we have gone from being booked weeks in advance to saying to clients, yes you can have a haircut today which is very strange after 12 years of travelling so well but we are aware that this is out of our control. “Our clients have been amazing through the entire thing as well as the amazing staff we have here at blend and the other neighbouring salons are the same. We will all help each other out.

“It would definitely be a lot easier if we had some sort of structure as no one understands what the rules are and the more questions that are asked there are no straight answers for (people keep getting told different information) when ringing the number provided on the permit site. To me this is a great concern as we try to do what is supposed to be the right thing but what is the right thing.” 

Lake Mulwala Fish, Camp and Ski owner Vanessa Bennett said they are lucky to have a store on both sides of the border but with restrictions to activity on the water also tightened, the current limitations are hurting business.

“There has been a huge difference between the first closure to now,” Vanessa said.

“The first time we were put into ‘lockdown’ it was like a ghost town. This time round we are a lot quieter in the store as most of our customers are from Victoria but there are a lot of people around the street. 

“In our Yarrawonga store, Tony had a man come in from Werribee who had obtained a permit saying he was a carer when he wasn’t. To say Tony wasn’t very impressed is an understatement.

“We know tourism is the main part of our town, but now is not the time.”

The three licenced clubs last week told the Chronicle they felt “abandoned” by the NSW government as a result of the tougher cross-border restrictions.

Mulwala Water Ski Club CEO Peter Duncan said he was blindsided by the new restrictions which he said affects 90% of the club’s membership and clientele. 

“We feel abandoned by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government,” Mr Duncan said.

“Our communities rely on each other so much to survive, these decisions have affected many livelihoods.

“We are barely keeping our doors open at the moment and then this is put on us.

“We are more at threat from people travelling down from Sydney.”

Our biggest employer, Australia Munition (Thales, in Mulwala) has been planning for worsening COVID-19 restrictions, including the possibility of housing Victorian-resident employees at the Mulwala-located Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.

“There have been a lot of contingency plans – earlier we did some scenario planning,” General Manager Australian Munitions Mulwala told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“Out of 364 employees, 270 are Victorian-based. We are trying to keep critical parts of our operations going and we did talk to the golf club resort.

“There are still some employees working from home and we are working through a lot of different sets of circumstances, especially with Victorian-based employees,” he said.