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Bush towns ‘left to die’ as drought bites in

Bush towns are being "left to die" as shops close down, leaving elderly and vulnerable locals stranded without access to basics like groceries or a bank.

Communities are crying out for new residents to take up vacant shopfronts and keep their towns going now the drought has started to ease in some areas.

The Trundle Food Store is the latest in a long line of losses for the agricultural region of about 300 people, where banks, cafes, a cinema and post office have all shut in recent years.

Janette Williams, 91, lives in Trundle in central NSW and relies on other locals to drive out of town to get groceries for her. Picture: Toby Zerna
Janette Williams, 91, lives in Trundle in central NSW and relies on other locals to drive out of town to get groceries for her. Picture: Toby Zerna


With a monthly rent bill of just $750, the Trundle community is eager for someone to reopen a grocery outlet.

"Aunty" Jeanette Williams, 91, used to drive to town in a red Mercedes, but the car's long gone and now she's limited to a mobility scooter.

She relies on people in the community picking her up a few items when they do their own shopping.

Trundle has gone from having a population of over 1200 people in the 1980s to just 370 today. Picture: Toby Zerna
Trundle has gone from having a population of over 1200 people in the 1980s to just 370 today. Picture: Toby Zerna

The shop's closure has also ended Ms Williams' favourite social outlet, as she would regularly stop for a coffee and chat after purchasing her groceries.

"People like Aunty Jeanette really relied on that shop to stay independent … without the town checking on her who knows what would happen," Trundle hardware store owner Garry Williams said. "It's a good little shop, a very viable business, we all just want someone to come out here and take it on."

All quiet on the main street of Trundle as the drought bites in. Picture: Toby Zerna
All quiet on the main street of Trundle as the drought bites in. Picture: Toby Zerna

Local mum Jo Charlton said the shop's closure had pushed already financially strained families to the brink, with the distance to the nearest stores now requiring precise planning. "You can't just pop up to the shop if you're suddenly a bit short on something for kid's school lunches.

Local mum Jo Charlton with her sons Sam 13 and Josh 9 outside the closed store. Picture: Toby Zerna
Local mum Jo Charlton with her sons Sam 13 and Josh 9 outside the closed store. Picture: Toby Zerna

Trundle Central school principal John Southon said his students were missing out on basic opportunities like having a weekend retail job or even getting an ice cream as a treat on a hot day.

"We drive the high school children to Dubbo for their week of work experience, they stay in a caravan park and get a chance to get retail experience," he said.

Trundle Public School principal John Southon says essential services like a dental van have also been lost to the area. Picture: Toby Zerna
Trundle Public School principal John Southon says essential services like a dental van have also been lost to the area. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

 

Trundle no longer has a grocery store and residents must drive 60km to Parkes for the bare essentials. Picture: Toby Zerna
Trundle no longer has a grocery store and residents must drive 60km to Parkes for the bare essentials. Picture: Toby Zerna