Cathy Hutton, Gay Hansen and Allison Randall on Australia Day at the official opening of the Boat Shed Gallery and Garden at Turkey Beach.
Cathy Hutton, Gay Hansen and Allison Randall on Australia Day at the official opening of the Boat Shed Gallery and Garden at Turkey Beach.

Enterprising business owners are crafting town's economy

UNLESS you are a pro fisherman, the only work in the tiny coastal community of Turkey Beach is in the village's small businesses.

For those small enterprises to survive, it involves some ­creative thinking and ­collaboration.

General store owners Allison and Jeff Randall are taking on the challenge, quite simply because they love where they live and want to stay there.

But to do that, their ­business must be viable and they need to find ways to encourage tourists and those from the surrounding district to turn off the highway and take the 26km drive to Turkey Beach.

Turkey Beach is looking to itself to build a future economy. A new gallery for local artists and hobbyists is the product of two local couples who say they want to stay in the town but need to make their businesses work.
Turkey Beach is looking to itself to build a future economy. A new gallery for local artists and hobbyists is the product of two local couples who say they want to stay in the town but need to make their businesses work.

"The shop was built in the early '80s and we're the fourth owner," Allison said.

"It's seen a lot of changes.

"We've tried to diversify, to stimulate interest and add a bit of colour to the town.

"We don't have much here, so we need to create it ourselves - our own vibrancy and our own tourist attractions for people to turn off the ­highway."

The official opening on Australia Day of the Boat Shed Gallery and Garden came six months after a conversation between Allison and Lindy Fry-Mitchell, a local artist.

Lindy sells her Eden Elements pottery online, around Australia and the world.

"But it dawned on me last year, I don't sell anything in Gladstone or Turkey Beach," Lindy said.

"Allison and I got talking and it went from there."

Turkey Beach’s Boat Shed Gallery and Garden officially opened on Australia Day.
Turkey Beach’s Boat Shed Gallery and Garden officially opened on Australia Day.

It started with a flower cart and some of Lindy's pottery at the front of the store and after six whirlwind months, with "some pretty crazy ideas thrown around", a small gallery was constructed.

About 100 people live in Turkey Beach, "110 on weekends", and a quarter of the town turned out for the ­opening.

Husbands Barry Mitchell and Jeff Randall are becoming expert at pouring ceramic moulds and the two couples are hoping more local artists and hobbyists will approach them to display and sell their creations.

With its swimming enclosure, floating jetty, boat ramp and some lovely, reasonably priced accomodation, Turkey Beach is a perfect weekend getaway.
With its swimming enclosure, floating jetty, boat ramp and some lovely, reasonably priced accomodation, Turkey Beach is a perfect weekend getaway.

Lindy's professional background is in employment services and strength-based community development.

She says the only way to survive in a small community is for businesses to work ­together.

"I'm keen to create some employment projects in town," she said.

"This is just the start of it."

She acknowledged, however, it could be difficult to get a small community on board, so they decided to "build it and they will come".

"It's great we are a fishing town, I love seafood, but I'd love to help develop our arts community," Lindy said.

"If we want people to turn off the highway and drive 20 minutes, we need to have something good.

"There are so many people who say they've driven past but never turned off, yet we have some lovely, reasonably priced accommodation, a swimming enclosure, floating jetty and a boat ramp.

"If we all work together, we can do this."

Lindy says Turkey Beach is one of few places where you can have the beach to yourself.

"It's amazing to live in a community like this, but it's hidden," she said.