Walgett supermarket: IGA opens new store to replace the one destroyed by fire in 2019

Bigger and better: The new supermarket has opened 18 months after a fire destroyed its predecessor. Photo contributed.
Bigger and better: The new supermarket has opened 18 months after a fire destroyed its predecessor. Photo contributed.

The community of Walgett that saw its only supermarket destroyed by fire 18 months ago can buy a full range of groceries and other household items locally once more.

A new and expanded IGA store opened in the north-western NSW town on November 25.

Walgett Shire Council general manager Michael Urquhart called it a "godsend to have it up and running for Christmas".

Residents had been relying on a temporary store, which had only limited items, or had been making trips 80 kilometres away in the interim.

Mr Urquhart said it had been a great opening day and the community was impressed with the store.

"It's certainly high-tech and it's bigger than the previous store," he said.

"It now consists of a lot of other things, not just the grocery line.

"They've got hardware, stationery, children's toys, they have haberdashery and all those sorts of things.

"So it's not just the food store now, they've broadened their number of lines and included all these motor vehicle oils and things like that.

"They've certainly done some homework there in what is an additional outlet for the people of Walgett."

It's been a real godsend to have it up and running for Christmas.

Walgett Shire Council general manager Michael Urquhart

The general manager praised the IGA owners who had "worked tirelessly to ensure they returned a top store to the people of Walgett".

"They have been very committed to the Walgett community, and on behalf of the community I can honestly say we thank them for that, because it's something you take for granted, going down to get a cooked chook when you're in a hurry, and to have that luxury, it's a luxury back again now," Mr Urquhart said.

The town is "buzzing" with harvest activity and an influx of contractors and other workers the season has attracted, the general manager says.

"The activity's unbelievable in the town, and all those people certainly are appreciating the opening of the IGA," Mr Urquhart said.

"It's been a real godsend to have it up and running for Christmas."

The town champion said the supermarket was more than a place to buy groceries.

"It is a real meeting hub for the people, you go down shopping and you catch up with people, it's certainly good to see those people chatting down there again now," Mr Urquhart said.

"A lot of people, elderly people in particular, they catch up with other people when they meet down at the IGA, it's really welcomed again in the community."

Store manager Paresh Patel said it was a significant development for the town after a "long 18 months", when customers had had to rely on a temporary shop, which only carried 1000 lines, or travel at least 80 kilometres to buy their groceries.

The customers were really happy and were telling him they were glad they no longer had to travel, he said.

The new store, an employer of 35 people, also offered a bakery, butchers, fresh fruit and vegetable department and other general merchandise, and a price match program, he said.

Barwon MP Roy Butler said in a post to Facebook that after the fire, which was "due to an electrical fault", the community had rallied together organising food drops and shopping trips for the elderly and people without transport to neighbouring towns for food and necessary supplies.

"The Vinnies building was converted into a mini supermarket with the basics and while it's been a long, arduous 18 months, the town is now bustling with excitement with the opening of a beautiful new store," he said.