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2019/20 Bushfire Crisis: The Impact on Mollymook Golf Club

Wednesday 26, Feb 2020
Barry West, Golf Manager (Mollymook Golf Club)

The recent bushfire crisis in Australia has been horrific, with lives and many houses lost, including along the south coast of NSW. 

Mollymook Golf Club survived the devastation and it’s Beachside clubhouse played an important part for locals and tourists in the area during the crisis. Mollymook’s Barry West takes us through a general timeline of what occurred during this traumatic period.

› 31st December 2019

Fires sweep through Conjola, north west Milton and Fisherman’s Paradise to the north and through Bateman’s Bay to the south.

The power went out at midday and people evacuated. Both the Hilltop and Beachside clubhouses were shut down. The sky turned to fire in the afternoon.

There were massive New Year’s Eve celebrations planned at the club but everything was cancelled and the clubhouses remained closed without power.

A refrigerated truck was arranged with extra fuel to keep the main food stock cool.

$103,911 down in revenue for one day.

› 1st January 2020

Remaining food stock was inventoried and all spoiled food was thrown to waste.

Additional security guards were arranged to guard the club as power has now been off for 24 hours.

The Beachside golf course is now being used as a safe camping ground as roads are cut in all directions.

› 3:00pm - New Year’s Day

The power is restored and staff are contacted to return to work if they have road access.

The kitchen team is put on alert to prepare for dinner in 3 hours with whatever menu they can provide for stranded guests.

Now $147,071 down in revenue.

› 2nd and 3rd January

Warnings posted about extreme fire danger coming on 4th January.

The Beachside clubhouse is offered as an overflow for the emergency evacuation centre at the Civic Centre in Ulladulla.

Tourists have been stuck in traffic on the main highway for two days unable to get out. Petrol stations have run out of fuel and the whole area is running out of essential supplies.

At 3:30am on 3rd January, the highway is opened so tourists can evacuate the area.

Now $279,024 down in revenue.

All staff are advised to prepare their homes and seek shelter with their families at the Beachside clubhouse on 4th January.

All golf members booked in for golf at Hilltop on Saturday have been advised the Hilltop clubhouse and course will be closed and to “stay safe” at the Beachside clubhouse.

› Saturday, 4th January

Most tourists and several residents have evacuated the south coast.

Generators arrive from Sydney to back up the power if required again. Fuel and food supplies arrive into town.

At 2:00pm, the fire threat is upgraded to emergency level with Lake Tabourie, Burrill Lake, Milton and Narrawallee under threat. Several staff leave work to go and protect their homes.

The Princes Highway is closed again in both directions.

Meals are provided for all emergency services people. People sleep in the clubhouse function room overnight with several staff staying to assist evacuees.

Now $359,187 down in revenue.

The function room at Beachside is the main area for stranded tourists to watch what is happening.

Pets are allowed into the clubhouse for their safety with the extreme temperatures predicted for the day.

› Sunday, 5th January

Recovery plan actioned. Club services running as normal with no tourist trade.

Concerns for the welfare and mental health of staff. Identify those needing help. Help work through financial issues.

Now $388,206 down in revenue.

› Monday, 6th January

All staff rosters adjusted back to suit the business requirements. All nightly entertainment cancelled except for Friday and Saturday nights.

Counselling offered to staff and assistance provided to staff on making disaster payment applications to the government.

Full time staff encouraged to take annual leave if possible while it is quiet.

End of week 1 since New Year’s Eve - $404,457 down in revenue.

End of week 2 - $487,984 down in revenue.

End of week 3 - $540,192 down in revenue.

End of Jan. - $531,141 down in revenue.

The clubhouses and golf courses were well supported in late January.

Author’s postscript:

Whilst needing rain, Barry West has since advised that Mollymook received more than 12 inches of rain in early February, closing the golf course for 3 days, futher impacting on their club’s financial position.

Please come and see us at Mollymook…