Brigalow General Store's new owners welcomed by the community

Brandon Long
By Brandon Long
Updated December 10 2021 - 12:24am, first published December 9 2021 - 4:00am
PROUD OWNERS: Brigalow General Store's new owners Nick and Emma Ferling and their daughter Ayla. Photo: Supplied

Nick and Emma Ferling left their life in a north Queensland mining town to buy a general store in the bush and they couldn't be happier.

In February, the pair packed up their home at Moranbah and headed 750km south with their three-month-old baby to take over the Brigalow General Store.

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Nick, a hydraulics warehouse manager, and Emma, a bus site supervisor, had talked about a move for a few years, so when they heard the store was on the market, they jumped at the chance.

"The opportunity arose, so we took it. [In the] middle of COVID with a three-month-old baby we thought, 'Hey, why not? Let's do it'," Mrs Ferling said.

"Nick's mother was born and raised in Chinchilla, so he knew the area well and his parents were good friends with [store owners] Peter and Celina."

Warrego Highway drawcard

Running the store for 13 years before deciding to retire, Peter and Celina Edge were responsible for introducing one of the most popular menu items, the T-Rex burger.

It's a hit the young couple plan on continuing.

"It's our biggest burger and it's been very popular," Mrs Ferling said.

Dubbed 'the biggest burger on the Warrego' by locals, the monstrous meal comprises a 200g beef patty, grilled onion, bacon, cheese, egg, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and barbecue sauce on a toasted bun.

"The truckies soon work out that it's too hard to eat behind the wheel," she said.

In addition to serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the store operates as a takeaway, post office and general store.

Under the new management, it's open seven days a week and the operating hours have been extended.

The famous T-Rex burger. Photo: Supplied

Running with the T-Rex name, the new owners plan to add more dinosaur items to the menu and install murals on the walls.

"Eromanga to the west and Winton to the north west have dinosaur fossils, so people coming from Toowoomba and Brisbane can start their dinosaur trail by stopping at Brigalow," Mr Ferling said.

And forget fried chicken from a certain American franchise - locals have spoken and the General Store's fried chicken can't be beaten.

"Once people try it once, they keep coming back. It's like a packet of Pringles," Mrs Ferling said.

While fresh sandwiches and handmade fast food are staples of the shop, the pair are ramping up the catering side of the business as well.

"We do catering for a few of the local community organisations and for events. It's been going really well," Mrs Ferling said.

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A bumpy road

The new venture has not been without speed bumps.

Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic with a baby has been tough for the duo, and a flood cutting off the highway in early December was an unwelcome nuisance.

"The flooding of the highway slowed us down and COVID has had an impact on our business," Mrs Ferling said.

"The AdBlue shortages are impacting us at the moment with the highway, but when we don't have those hurdles, we're thriving."

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Community spirit

However, the pair from out of town believe the community spirit has seen them through.

"We've been accepted very quickly in the community," Mrs Ferling said.

"We have already made what we can see being lifelong friends from just having the shop here and having people come in and say hello."

Nick, 36, and Emma, 33, say they are happy in their new community and can see themselves sticking around for the long haul.

"We're young enough that we hope to do 20 years here - to see our daughter and any more kids that come along all the way through from primary to high school," Mr Ferling said.

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Brandon Long

Brandon Long

Queensland Country Life journalist

Brandon Long is a Queensland Country Life journalist based in Toowoomba.

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