Bobbins recovering from a summer in the firing line

By: Mark Gojszyk

Road closures, isolation and income hit create lasting impact

Bobbins recovering from a summer in the firing line
A Bobbins Western Star semi wreathed in smoke


While mainstream news coverage of the bushfire disaster focuses on stories of individuals and towns, little focus has been on one of the industries crucial to the recovery – trucking.

With roots in the NSW south coast town of Pambula, and a constant presence along the east coast for the best part of 50 years, Bobbins Transport’s business operations bore the brunt of the bushfire disaster.

"We have basically been isolated with roads closed in every direction at various times," director Neville Bobbin tells ATN.

"Some of our staff were evacuated up to four times from their homes over a three-week period.

"During the height of the emergency, we sourced and delivered numerous truckloads of food to various evacuation centres within the local government area and other areas.

"The road closures required us to travel alternate routes that may have been available at a significant cost to the business."

How Bobbins became a constanct presence on the east coast, here

The added overheads are compounded by reduced tourism and industry in the region, two of the company’s main income sources.

"The Bega Valley in January sees over 20,000 holidaymakers to the area and when the emergency was declared in late December they were requested to leave," Bobbin says.

"This directly affected us with a significant reduction in freight requirements to the region.

"The fires have affected the dairy industry as well as the timber industry and this effect will last for some time – the timber supply of both hardwood and softwood has been dramatically affected and cannot be replaced overnight."

The recovery has begun but the going is slow, Bobbin says.

His concern for the future is driven by a deep concern about the bureaucratic response.

"With roads now open, we have quickly resumed business but at a much lower level than previous years.

"This will continue for some time and we will have to approach the issue of putting staff off at some time.

"We have had visits from the prime minister, deputy PM, premier, deputy premier and various senators and ministers to fly the flag.

"I would like to say that these visits have had outcomes but they have been nothing more than flying the flag and saying ‘we feel your pain’.

"The current guidelines for business assistance are of little use and offer nothing to businesses that have lost income or incurred extra expense to provide a service to the community in which they operate. 

"In fact, if the criteria is not changed, then you can expect less than 2 per cent of business to receive any assistance."


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