Relief as Merimbula shops rise from the ashes and building works progress

Lynn McColl, who with her family owns the two shops, currently being rebuilt after the fires.
Lynn McColl, who with her family owns the two shops, currently being rebuilt after the fires.

For over 25 years the fishing shop and bakery were anchor sites along Merimbula's Market St but in May 2019 they were both totally destroyed when fire ripped through in the early hours.

Now two new buildings are emerging, bringing with them the promise of a reinvigorated centre of town and for fishing shop, Tackle World, the chance to return to much larger premises.

For Lynn McColl, whose family owns the sites, it has been a long haul with not only bushfires and COVID-19 playing their parts but also the difficulties in getting building materials.

Ms McColl had just returned from a holiday and was in Sydney on the morning of the fires, when she received the phone call at 5am.

"My brother picked me up, we just dumped everything and drove down here as it was being put out; it was pretty devastating," she said.

Then came the insurance process with three insurance companies involved, one for each of the tenants and one for the landlords. There was also a police investigation, although no one was charged.

"By the time we were finishing all that, we were heading towards Christmas and then it was the bushfires that hit us. We couldn't expect to progress anything at that time and then COVID hit and we were set back again although we still were having conversations about what we would do," Ms McColl said.

The new shop for Tackle World.

The new shop for Tackle World.

They had considered having offices on a second storey but the impacts of COVID with more people working from home, stopped them in their tracks.

"There were plans, a DA and then revisions and it took time.

"It was a really tough time for everyone and you can't control the situation because we're living in extreme circumstances," Ms McColl said.

It was close to Christmas 2020 by the time they had finalised everything only to discover that the materials they had planned on using, couldn't be sourced from overseas.

Finally it seems we have all the materials and we've breathed a sigh of relief.

Lynn McColl

"We literally had to go back to the drawing board and get it approved again. We haven't finalised who will take the second building, but the infrastructure is there for a bakery, if one wants to take it but it can be used by any business."

The building is set back with room for a courtyard at the front, and a chance to make the most of the laneway.

"Finally it seems we have all the materials and we've breathed a sigh of relief. We're aiming for everyone to be trading by Christmas," Ms McColl said.

The other shop which has a courtyard planned for the front and will be set back to make the most of the laneway.

The other shop which has a courtyard planned for the front and will be set back to make the most of the laneway.

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