BEERWAH: Third generation farmer John Allen at his Oakland farm with some cherry tomatoes.
BEERWAH: Third generation farmer John Allen at his Oakland farm with some cherry tomatoes. John McCutcheon

SPOTLIGHT: Small Coast town still surprises visitors

OVER the years, Beerwah has grown from a rural farming area into a bustling suburb that's still managed to hold on to that small-town feel, locals say.

The world-famous Australia Zoo may have put the town on the map, but what makes Beerwah "Beerwah" is much more intrinsic than a tourist attraction.

It's community spirit.

While walking through the main streets, the town's tight-knit nature is evident with locals wishing each other a good day as they go about their business.

 

Simpson Street. The main Street in Beerwah.
Simpson Street. The main Street in Beerwah. John McCutcheon

Beerwah Shopping Village, seemingly the town's hub, is a hive of activity with people sitting in the sun enjoying a coffee, meeting with friends and visiting locally owned stores.

One person who has seen the town's up-and-downs is John Allen, owner of Oakland Farms which grows strawberries, ginger and cherry tomatoes about eight minutes drive from the town centre.

Mr Allen's family moved to Beerwah in the 1890s and he's spent more than 50 years in the area, attending the local primary school when there were less than 100 students.

 

BEERWAH: Third generation farmer John Allen at his Oakland farm with some cherry tomatoes.
BEERWAH: Third generation farmer John Allen at his Oakland farm with some cherry tomatoes. John McCutcheon

"Beerwah has gone from a small country town, to an urban metropolis basically," Mr Allen said.

"It's a lovely place on the Coast and in our situation we can enjoy the amenities of the rural surrounds...

"We're close to everything and not so close that you've got people in your back door."

Jo Rosenlund works at local clothing store Icon Boutique and said visitors to the area were often surprised when they see how much the town has to offer.

"There's lots of coffee shops and stuff that bring people into town," she said.

"It's just that little country environment still, obviously it's evolved in the last 20 years, but it's still got that very personal feeling to it."

 

BEERWAH: Jo Rosenlund of Icon Boutique serving a happy customer.
BEERWAH: Jo Rosenlund of Icon Boutique serving a happy customer. John McCutcheon

But, the town's not without its problems.

Owner of Icon Boutique Margaret Ross said business had been slowing down over the past two years, not just for her, but others in the area as well.

"This year it's really dropped off and everybody's saying the same thing," she said.

"Retail sales overall in Australia have been in the doldrums."

While the pair weren't sure of the reasoning for the downturn, they said an increase in online shopping could be causing Beerwah store owners to feel the pinch.

What is obvious is the townfolk's focus on supporting their own.

Bar the major retailers in the Beerwah Shopping Village, the streets are filled mainly with locally owned cafes and service providers.

The Glasshouse Country Chamber of Commerce previously ran a campaign urging the community to buy local, but president Ursula Starkovsky said the focus now was on increasing tourism to the area.

While the organisation deals more with the service sector rather than retail, Ms Starkovsky said it was "the nature of the beast" for business to fluctuate, but she was confident an increase in tourism would have a flow on effect to businesses in the area.

"The thing is if we have new developments and new people coming to town then of course the business community with profit from that," she said.

"That's our aim, that is the ultimate goal to bring tourists here to spend their dollars here."

Ms Starkovsky said a heritage trail walk was one idea she was working on to boost visitor numbers, but more tourist accommodation was needed in the area.

FAST FACTS

Population: 8006

Median age: 40

Schools: 3

Median weekly income: $1225

Top overseas country of birth: United Kingdom



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