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L-R Steve Pickering, artist Dave Sparkes (centre) and Marc McIntyre at the Dave Sparkes exhibition at the Coldstream Gallery, on 1 March 2020. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Community spirit stays alive through COVID-19

[^Stock photo, pre Covid-19]

Most businesses within the village of Ulmarra may have closed temporarily due to the onset of COVID-19, but the community spirit is alive and well.

President of Ulmarra Village Incorporated, Steve Pickering and his partner Marc McIntyre said that they (like many others) have had to find another way of operating their business, during this period.

Steve and Marc, owners of the Coldstream Gallery in Ulmarra, have recently announced on their Facebook page that although the doors to their gallery may be closed for the moment, their business is now open online 24/7.

“COVID -19 has happened about the same time as the Pacific Highway by-pass (around the village) was scheduled to open,” Steve said. “We were preparing for a downturn – just not a shut down.

“We had started planning to move some of our gallery online; so (due to COVID -19) it’s forced our hand and now we have to move everything online.

“Most of the other businesses in town have closed their doors.

“There’s a higher proportion of older residents in Ulmarra and some of these are volunteers and business owners.

“We also get a lot of grey nomads and older travellers to town, so for everyone’s health and safety I think that all of the businesses realised that they just needed to close to protect not only themselves, but to protect the visitors to the area.

“The Ulmarra Hotel is the only business on Coldstream Street that is open, and the publican has completely changed the way that the hotel runs.

“Everything’s takeaway now. The menu has changed, and they now have takeaway pizzas and take away food.

“Some of the businesses which are on the highway, open and close intermittently. I think it is going to be a slow crawl out of this. I think a lot of businesses want to open, so hopefully we are not closed for too much longer,” he said.

Marc said that there is a real sense of community within the village at this moment.

“We all communicate now which we never did before, which is really great,” Marc said.

“We’ve got our little Messenger groups and Facebook groups going and I must say I’ve been blown away by business owners as well as others, asking how we’re going and if there is anything they can do to help.

“It’s been really overwhelming the amount of people who have shown that they care.

“We don’t want to open the gallery and encourage people to come out (at the moment). For everyone’s safety we really need to stay at home.

It’s not the time to go holidaying and gallivanting around the place.

“There’s plenty to do at home – and I must say that everyone’s gardens are looking really nice,” he said.


Drawings in the front windows of Vintage Soul, in Coldstream Street, send out a caring message to the community. Image: Lynne Mowbray