Coastal couple generate vision for tiny town of Woolooga

Clare Adcock
By Clare Adcock
Updated May 17 2022 - 11:08pm, first published May 13 2022 - 9:00am
Caz and Matthew Crane preparing for customers at their new bar and grill, the Woolooga Longyard. Photos: Clare Adcock

Woolooga is generally a town that people drive through on their way to somewhere else, the kind where if you blink, you'll miss it, but this family is pulling out all the stops to ensure it gets a second glance.

Caz and Matthew Crane, along with their daughter Georgia, are building an empire in the tiny town 46 kilometres north west of Gympie, opening a cafe and grocer, produce store, bar and grill, hair and beauty salon and Airbnb, all in the space of six months.

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The family bought a property at Glen Echo eight years ago and made the permanent move from the Sunshine Coast at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, bringing with them their manufacturing business to be run from the farm.

With a keen interest in cattle, as well as a stock and quarter horse breeding business, the move to Woolooga made perfect sense.

Ms Crane said it was quite a culture shock going from the beach to the bush, but was an ideal move for them as a family and as business owners.

The Crane family own and run the whole business strip in the Wide Bay town of Woolooga.

The first cab off the rank was The Woolooga Trader cafe and grocer, followed by the produce store, run by the couple's daughter Georgia, then the most recent addition, The Woolooga Longyard bar and grill, which opened to the public yesterday.

The next instalment in the township will be a hair and beauty salon, run by Ms Crane as a hairdresser by trade, followed by a one-bedroom Airbnb for travellers to stay overnight or locals to crash if they've enjoyed one too many drinks at the bar.

Ms Crane said it was her desire to pick up the scissors again, along with their aspirations to bring something to the town, that prompted the couple to build their row of businesses.

"I wanted to go back to work and we thought why not bring Woolooga back to life because there was just nothing here anymore," she said.

"We kept driving past it and we saw potential, saying this could really be something.

"Yes it's a very quiet little town, but we want to make it known that it's a destination. Come, sit, eat, have a coffee, get your hair done if you want to."

Five businesses, no worries: meet the family single-handedly reviving a small country town

The wild and wet opening week weather was quite fitting for the couple considering they have overcome not one, but two floods already this year on their journey to open the new establishment.

Ms Crane said although the floods wreaked havoc with their plans to open The Longyard, and caused a lot of damage to the store and cafe, it brought with it a silver lining in the form of community support.

"It all went under in January and didn't quite go under in February but we had to move everything out of here and then got stuck out of town for a week," she said.

"It was a big setback considering I'd only been open for 12 weeks when I went underwater and lost everything.

"The community have just been so supportive, even through the hard times with the floods and everything, they've backed us the whole way, so that's given us more encouragement to keep going."

Five businesses, no worries: meet the family single-handedly reviving a small country town

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It seems that it's not just travellers who are happy to have somewhere to stop for a pint and parmi, with many enthusiastic locals braving the rain and rising creeks to try out their new watering hole.

"All of the locals came down last night and plenty will be back tonight," Ms Crane said.

"There's some people who are coming to The Longyard tomorrow night, they've been trying to catch up for two years with one being in Gympie and the other in Biggenden but it was too far for either one."

"But they said now they can meet in the middle, so that's great."

Visitors can expect the hair and beauty salon to be ready for business in the next month, closely followed by the accommodation.

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Clare Adcock

Clare Adcock

Roma Journalist - Queensland Country Life

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