Rural CQ town surviving amidst harsh drought
DESPITE the town being in the middle of one of the harshest droughts in history, Steve Alexander has taken a leap into a new business.
Mr Alexander, 30, is the new owner of Alpha Quality Meats in Alpha, a rural town 170km west of Emerald on the Capricorn Highway.
Last week, The Morning Bulletin ran a two page spread on how the town was surviving amid the drought.
Chris Tilse of Snow's Bakery said he had noticed the drop in sweets and cakes from farmers as they cut back on luxuries and Judy Accutt from Alpha Merchandise talked about how hard it has been getting lick and produce supplies in as there was such big demand across Queensland and New South Wales.
Despite this, Mr Alexander took the leap in taking on a new business venture.
"It is (drought) something I considered and I feel like if I come in now it is going to be hard going but once it picks it up it will be fine,” he said.
"I see that community needs it (a butcher's) more than I need money.
"I am not here to screw everyone out of their last penny.”
Mr Alexander said as a town, it was hard to tell how the economy was heading.
"It is doing alright, it is very quiet and it has just been in the last month and six weeks... it is noticeably less people... head count is a lower amount,” he said.
Mr Alexander moved to the rural town, which has a population of 571 people according to the 2011 Census, in January.
He and his partner, Kylie Jones, moved with their son, Stockton, 3, for his partner's first rural teaching stint.
Coming from Oakey and prior to this, Brisbane, at first it was a bit of a culture shock, but they quickly adapted.
"We love it here.... it was an adjustment to begin with,” Mr Alexander said.
"It's a quaint little town, everyone is so friendly, it's very community spirited.
"I started meeting all the people, the people here are what is keeping this town alive.”
Looking for work, Mr Alexander starting working at the butcher's shop but he hadn't picked up a butcher's knife in some time.
After completing his butchery apprenticeship in Townsville at the age of 20, he went into various other fields with his last role being a chippy - so he was a bit rusty with his knife skills.
"It took me a couple of weeks but I got there.. there are a few cuts that I wrecked but I got there,” he said.
Offered the opportunity to take the shop on, Mr Alexander said he could see a future in it.
"A challenge for one, and secondly, I can seen a lot of potential in this little shop,” he said.
Mr Alexander says it will be good to bring a different face to the town.
"I am trying to broaden their horizons, something new and fresh,” he said.
A pipe dream is to put in a community garden next to the shop.
He also wants to implement a 100 per cent local produce policy.