The mood in Talbingo has remained calm throughout the coronavirus crisis, despite pressures coming from outside the town on businesses and groceries. While the rest of the world goes into various degrees of isolation and lockdown, locals say there hasn’t been a lot of change.
The Talbingo Country Club has borne the brunt of the local coronavirus closures. Housing both the club and the only restaurant in town, the Club’s closure was mandated by the National Cabinet and Clubs NSW and they’ve closed their accommodation, club and restaurant, sending home four staff.
“Even if we wanted to stay open, we couldn’t,” said Administration Manager Renee Reinders. She guessed that the Club’s staff were likely applying for Centrelink, like most people who’ve lost their jobs due to coronavirus closures.
The Club had considered allowing the Chinese restaurant to do takeaway food during the closure, but found it wouldn’t make financial sense, because they’d have to hire staff to keep the building open and there wouldn’t likely be enough takeaway orders to make it worthwhile.
At least for this week, the entire Club will be completely closed, though that might change in the future. Renee said it’s likely that volunteers will continue to maintain the golf course, since “it still has to be mowed and they usually just soldier on.”
With a cheerful attitude, Renee said most people in town seemed to be remaining calm – a common atmosphere in Talbingo.
“It’s always a ghost town, but it’s even worse now,” said Renee.
“I don’t think there’s much to do except be at home. There’s a few people stressing, but most of us are just chilled out that we get to be home with our kids.
“We’re already so isolated, I think we feel pretty safe.”
Over at the Talbingo Supermarket, Kevin Gee agreed. He’s been making sure he has enough stock on hand to satisfy the locals’ basic needs and is keeping pace so far. The Supermarket has been continuing their Monday pizza nights and is considering offering takeaway food in the evenings now that the Country Club has closed.
“It’s pretty busy,” said Kevin, “We’re having some fun here… Everyone seems to appreciate that we’re trying to do the right thing by them.”
Kevin said he’s been running low on cleaning products and toilet paper, like everywhere else, but shoppers in Talbingo have been respectful and no one has been buying an usual amount of anything.
“Everyone’s pretty pragmatic here. Just taking each day as it comes,” he said.
“No one’s panic buying, no one seems unduly concerned about the prospect of being locked down.”
His biggest concern, with Easter just around the corner: beer. Kevin said he doesn’t get a credit line for tobacco or alcohol and has to pay up front for beer and cigarettes. He’s trying to make sure that Talbingo residents can get what they need throughout the coronavirus closures.
He’s facing a cut off deadline for Easter orders and his last order cost “the best part of $10,000 out of my pocket [that] I’ve got to pay up front.” He’s trying to strike a balance between making sure there’s enough stock for the holiday and he can still pay his staff their regular wages.
It’s been a community effort in Talbingo, with shoppers dealing respectfully and patiently with each other and the supermarket, and suppliers, like the butchers in Tumut, continuing to make the supermarket’s orders a priority.
“The butcher that we use is struggling,” said Kevin, “[but] he’s doing the right thing as well by looking after us.”
For now, Kevin is calmly confident that he and his two adult and four teenage staff members will be able to continue trading normally. Even if the restrictions get tighter, Kevin said he’s pretty happy he moved to Talbingo this year.
“I think most people realise that if you’re going to be locked down, Talbingo is one of the nicest places to be.”