By Melissa Keogh
A family-owned business in a country town in the state’s Mid North is striving to fire up the local economy by expanding its services and supporting jobs.
Flinders Machinery in Booleroo Centre, a small service town about 80km from Port Augusta, started as an agricultural machinery dealership in 2009.
Over the past five years two of the town’s mechanic workshops and two banks have shut their doors, while some other businesses are still “struggling”.
Flinders Machinery owner Barrie McCallum says his business helped pick up the slack by extending the workshop to allow for the servicing of locals’ cars, trucks and school buses.
Flinders Machinery also hires a small number of apprentices.
“The local garage had been in town for as long as I can remember and that shut its doors … we took over the automotives,” Barrie says.
“We now service the school buses and farmers’ utes instead of them having to go to Port Pirie or Crystal Brook.”
Booleroo Centre is 280km from Adelaide in the southern Flinders Ranges and has a population of 500 people.
While other regional areas might lose youth to the cities, Barrie says Booleroo has managed to retain many young people.
“We have been taking on apprentices for a number of years,” he says.
“We have got a lot of young lads with an interest in machinery and they have a good work ethic.”
Booleroo Centre in the Mt Remarkable local government area, and is home to South Australia’s largest tractor and steam engine collection which attracts scores of visitors.
But Mt Remarkable Mayor Colin Nottle says Booleroo Centre still isn’t as recognised as its neighbours, such as popular mountain biking destination, Melrose.
“They (people) all know where Melrose is, but they don’t know where Booleroo is,” he says.
“The last couple of years have been unfortunate … we have got another two or three businesses that are struggling.
“So to have Flinders going well, it’s really something to be thankful for.”
Colin says Booleroo Centre’s exposure could soon increase.
The world’s largest lithium ion battery is set to be built 30 minutes away in Jamestown and he says its proximity could bring more interest in Booleroo.
The Mt Remarkable Council is also carrying out a number of streetscape works to lift Booleroo Centre’s profile.
“We’re upgrading the main street to be more attractive,” Colin says.
“We have identified that we need to promote our region more.
“We need to get the word out because it’s beautiful, especially at this time of year.”
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