BENDEMEER’S only fuel station has been saved from closure after a Queensland couple bought the business and corresponding caravan park and general store.
New owners Wayne and Wilma Denholm took over the reins from long-standing owners Jim and Amy Geddes on Monday, December 16.
The couple admit they were undeterred by the contentious issue of free camping at the rodeo grounds which shoulder the commercial operation, saying they went into the sale with their “eyes open”.
“We have spoken to council about it and we will work with them,” Mr Denholm said.
“We’re aware there is a survey and we are quite happy to go with what the community wants. What ever they want we’ll abide by it.”
The Geddes advised residents some months ago they intended to shut the fuel station and general store in protest of an ongoing stoush with council over the matter of free camping, much to the dismay or local motorists.
Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) agreed in 2008 to allow motorists – the majority being recreational vehicles – to rest at the rodeo grounds, igniting fierce community backlash.
But the Denholmses arrival offers the chance for new beginnings and Mr Denholm, for one, is excited about the caravan park’s future.
“The location here is amazing,” the former policeman said.
“We were watching the platypuses down on the river – there were five of them down there last night – and you can’t see that in too many places.
“We want to try and turn the park into more of a destination park rather than an overnighter.
“Give them a reason to hang around and let them know what else is in the community.”
Mrs Denholm, who has worked in the motel industry since she was 17, said the couple had already received a warm reception from the community.
“The locals are very friendly,” she said. “Lots of people are dropping in to say ‘Hi’ and welcome us. It’s such a beautiful spot.”
TRC sent out a survey to Bendemeer ratepayers earlier this month in order to gauge community sentiment for free camping in the area.
The completed survey is to be returned to council by January 10.