Rains make it tough for business

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph
Brooke Patterson and Simon Liddell outside their Cafe in Marble Bar.
Camera IconBrooke Patterson and Simon Liddell outside their Cafe in Marble Bar. Credit: Picture: Tanya Drage

Flooded roads caused by the wet season have made the trek for residents in Marble Bar to Port Hedland a challenge.

Roads became impassable for days on end when heavy rains transformed unsealed routes into boggy quagmires.

While the better-than-average wet season has generally been welcomed, it has left residents isolated for days, and also had a huge affect on local businesses which rely on fresh produce from Port Hedland to keep their businesses running.

Mad Clappin’ Harry’s, located in an historical building by the police station on Station Street in Marble Bar, is one of the only places in town where you can buy a cooked meal and an organic coffee.

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Each fortnight, the cafe relies on a delivery of fresh produce from Goldline Distributors, a company which sources and delivers the food to the region.

Mad Clappin’ Harry’s co-owner Brooke Patterson said when the roads were closed, the deliveries could be delayed for several days, which made it difficult to run a business which had a strong focus on providing fresh food including everything from salads, burgers, and baked goods made from scratch.

In January, the cafe made the decision to donate about $400 of food which was stuck in Port Hedland because of road closures, to the cafe at the Youth Involvement Council in Port Hedland.

“While the food was waiting in Hedland, we did some research and found the Youth Involvement Council was very much in line with our values,” she said.

“When we have no produce, it really limits our options,” she said.

Ms Patterson said sourcing food locally was top priority for the cafe, although there were limited gardens in Marble Bar that had a sufficient supply.

She said the cafe would have to look at other options ahead of the next wet season.

Chamber of Commerce president Jim Henneberry said it was a shame to see Marble Bar, an area with significant historical background, go “unrealised” because of its small population.

“They are totally ignored because of the small amount of people residing in the town,” he said.

“We see a lot of people from Marble Bar come into Port Hedland just to do their shopping.”

He said tourism in Marble Bar was largely affected because of road conditions.

“It is very important to make everybody aware of how reliant we are on roads,” he said.

“You would think in an area where you have Royalties for Regions that you would have roads that are sealed.”

Mr Henneberry suggested that tourism would boom in the area if tourists who visited Port Hedland on cruise ships had the option to take a day trip to Marble Bar on a bus.

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