Mine closure leaves Dysart broken
THE Farewell from Dysart sign is becoming a regular sight in the rear vision mirror as families pack up their possessions and swap Central Queensland for the coast.
It is an increasing trend after the decision to close Norwich Park, previously the employer of most breadwinners in the resource town.
Some were retrenched to other far-flung Bowen Basin operations, but others, estimated at more than 120, took voluntary redundancies.
And nowhere is the loss of the BMA mine's economic input more evident than at the local shopping complex.
The only bakery in town is closing and the only doctor is forced to work from a renovated home.
There's no butcher and countless other businesses are struggling on a daily basis.
"But I think since Norwich Park closed, it has impacted more," Dysart Community Action Group secretary Anne Ahern said.
"The town really seems depressed."
It has been like that for months.
Mrs Ahern said the small-town feel of a formerly close-knit community had disappeared, replaced by a simmering sense of apprehension and depression.
"Norwich Park has had a huge impact on the morale of the town," she said.
"A lot more families have left, a lot of wives relocated to the coast and the people that went to other mines, the families moved to be closer to them.
"It has impacted on everything - all the sporting clubs, the shopping centre - the list goes on."
Dysart Bakery owner Jason Moffat is soon to close the store's doors for the final time, taking away another business the town will have to learn to do without.
Mr Moffat likened running the bakery to being on night shift for the past 18 years and said the time had come to do something different.
"I came here in my early 20s and I'm in my early 40s," Mr Moffat, 43, said.
"I can't get staff at night because of the staff rosters at other places so I'm back to doing it all myself.
"I can't pay a decent wage and accommodate staff as well."
Mr Moffat said he wouldn't leave Dysart.
But he said the trends had changed over the years he and his family had lived there.
"It's a very different demographic than what it used to be," he said.
"It used to be buzzing with families and now there are a lot of single men and women.
"There is a different breed of family than what was here 10 years ago."
Mr Moffat said the change in community involvement and participation coincided directly with the change to mining rosters.
A Dysart source said about 20 families a week were leaving town with few moving there for the first time, leaving a gaping hole that couldn't be filled.
Mrs Ahern said the DCAG was not immune to the low numbers and put the call out for members to join and fight for the town's survival.
"There seems to be just more and more single people coming into the town and the camps with transient workers and contractors are always growing," she said.
"It certainly doesn't have the friendly town feel it used to, but it can get it back."