September 23, 2020

ABC News: Mogo welcomes replacement wheelchair-friendly bus amid hope for bumper tourism summer

In the news

This article first appeared on ABC News online on 23 September 2020.

A Mogo-based coach company has welcomed the arrival of a wheelchair-friendly bus after its existing one was destroyed in the New Year's Eve bushfires.

Mal and Sue Rixon of Rixon's Buses lost their previous vehicle when a blaze swept through their Mogo property.

Nine months later the couple have managed to purchase another after successfully obtaining an $87,000 grant from the Business Council of Australia.

"We've got an unexpected lift in morale," Mr Rixon said.

"It's giving us a bit of a boost to think that there are people out there getting help."

Mal Rixon sits in the drivers seat of the mini bus wearing a red shirt. His elbow is resting on the window
Mal Rixon tries out his new mini-bus, replacing the previous one destroyed by bushfire.(ABC South East NSW: Adriane Reardon)

The replacement bus will allow the business to resume transporting people in and around the Eurobodalla region to attend medical appointments, both locally and in Canberra.

It will also be used by local aged care homes for daytrips, picnics, and shopping outings.

The previous vehicle could only accommodate two wheelchairs but the replacement can fit up to eight, allowing the business to increase their transport capacity.

"People will have the opportunity now to go out as a group, not just in ones or twos," Mr Rixon said.

"We've been affected since November last year. We had road closures, then we got burnt out, then we've got COVID-19 to deal with."

"This is the best thing that's happened in 11 months."

Bouncing back

The Business Council of Australia's bushfire-recovery program Biz Rebuild also led the construction of Mogo's pop-up mall in February, allowing burnt-out businesses to use a temporary shopfront for the next two years while original sites are rebuilt.

Lorena Granados runs a leather goods store in one of the demountable buildings and is hoping for a bumper tourism summer.

"With the global pandemic there hasn't been an abundance of business," she said.

"We're still motivated to bounce back and we're looking forward to having a busy season because we missed the first one."

A couple with their arm around each other. There are a rack of hats lining the walls in the background.
Lorena Granados and Gaspar Roman have fitted their shopfront at the pop-up mall in Mogo.(ABC South East NSW: Adriane Reardon)

The New South Wales south coast town's economy is highly dependent on tourism and businesses are hoping the pandemic, as well as the ever-present bushfire risk, do not hamper opportunities to gain income and rebuild.

"We want to get our shop back up and running before the two years is up in these containers," Ms Granados said.

"Time is catching up with us and this year we haven't really moved forward yet.

"Hopefully people don't forget what we've been through and our area is really busy with visitors once again."

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