Bruce Rock: where friends become family

Published on:
Monday, 28 August, 2023
WALGA updates

The motto of the small wheatbelt Shire of Bruce Rock, is “Where friends become family” and it’s a motto that is lived and breathed by the 980 residents.

On 25 March 2020, as pandemic panic was taking its grip across the world, the Bruce Rock supermarket, the town’s only store, was burnt to the ground.

Bruce Rock Shire President Stephen Strange said he remembers the night like it was yesterday.

“This was the time when we were getting twice daily COVID updates from the Premier and people didn’t know if they were going to live or die,” Mr Strange said.

“Just before the fire, the supermarket shelves were quite bare – there was a lot of panic buying and stockpiling, not only from locals, but people driving hours from Perth.

“When the fire happened, volunteers came out from everywhere including neighbouring towns to help put it out –the fire could’ve wiped out the main street. They saved our town.

“The CEO Darren [Mollenoyux] and I were both there with everyone helping to evacuate people and bring the fire under control, and it was there and then that we planned to set up a temporary store in the Town Hall.”

With a few quick calls and texts, the Bruce Rock Council fully supported converting the Town Hall into a temporary supermarket.

“We decided Darren’s role was to set up the store and my role was to get the store stocked,” Mr Strange explained.

“We had a lot of donations. A local farmer lent us shelves, and someone else lent us a refrigerated sea container. So many donations and offers to help from across the State, it was incredible.”

Within 36 hours, the temporary supermarket was set up, complete with extra generators, staff and some stock. And it’s still operating today.

Mr Strange said it was a huge challenge to source food with shortages across the state including shortages at the major supermarket chains.

“Residents were scared, they were worried about food security,” he said.

“The ex-Mayor of Wanneroo and past WALGA President Tracey Roberts organised a delivery of truckload of fruit and veg donated from a Wanneroo market gardener.

“Councillors, council staff, police and volunteers all helped divide the vegetables into care crates and we delivered them to the locals. It really helped the community feel safe and cared for and provided relief and reassurance that food was coming in and that everything was going to be ok.

“We then created an oversized shopping list for Woolworths who supplied an emergency truck of food just to get us started and get us through – mind you, there’s no Woolworths in our region so it was just fantastic what they did.”

The Bruce Rock Progress Association set out to fund raise to help contribute towards the $5 million project to rebuild the supermarket.

“They have raised close to $450,000 from cake stalls to grain donations and cash donations – it’s been an immense effort,” he said.

On the original supermarket site and spanning two blocks, The Shire has built a state-of-the-art supermarket and hardware store with doors set to swing open in October.

“The Shire owns the land and building and we’re in the process of appointing a lessee who’ll operate it as their own business,” the Shire President said.

“It’s a unique model, but it works. We’ve done it in the past, built factory units and leased them out to those who want to start their business like the physio, cabinet maker and the auto electrician.”

Bruce Rock is a farming district, mostly grain and livestock and has solid manufacturing businesses building road trains, sheds and more.

The small town with a big heart has a charming country hotel with counter meals, a District Club, coffee shop, a school with 120 students from kindergarten to Year 10, a day care centre, aged care village, and a unique model for medical staff. Along with a 24-hour hospital, there’s a full-time doctor and the Shire employs the medical staff. There’s also a full-time dentist (who is also a Councillor).

According to Mr Strange, the jewel in Bruce Rock’s crown is their sporting facilities.

“In winter there’s hockey, football, and netball, all played on the same day, town against town, and many people here are involved in sport often three generations of the same family,” Mr Strange said.

“You could be playing footy one minute and blowing a whistle umpiring the next.

“In summer, there’s lawn bowls, tennis, and basketball. Plus, there’s indoor cricket, a 24-hour gym, a big outdoor swimming pool and water slide and barbeques on the grounds nearby.”

The recently upgraded Recreation Centre caters for indoor sports including volleyball, squash, badminton and indoor cricket and outdoor sports including cricket, and the oval has flood lights to encourage night training and competitions.

The caravan park is adjacent to Aquatic Centre, where entry is just $4.50 for adults or $2.50 for children.

Sounds like a great place for a holiday. 

Share This Page
Back to of the page