As each new day dawns on the small village of Yerong Creek in NSW, a small group of men still gather at the front of the historic building housing the general store, post office and rural supplies to collect the morning’s local newspaper.
Delta Agribusiness acquired the small township’s rural supplies business four years ago, and since then has been focused on increasing the level of local investment, and also the range of services provided to the local farming community. A large new fertilizer storage complex has just been commissioned, increasing storage capacity from 280 tonnes to 600 tonnes, and the branch is about to undergo a much needed renovation to improve functionality, efficiencies, and an improved customer experience. What will remain though is the provision of long held community services, such as newspapers, drinks and lollies for the local kids.
“Our busiest times are definitely first thing in the morning with people coming to buy the local newspapers and in the afternoons when children attending school in Wagga hop off the bus and come in for lollies and drinks,” branch manager Rob Wiltshire said, also pointing out the pie warmer, which he deems is a necessity during the winter months, with some 16 pies sold each day – not bad for a district with a population just over 500 people.
Yerong Creek is located on the Olympic Highway between Albury and Wagga Wagga and is situated on the railway line, with the XPT from Sydney to Melbourne and several freight trains running through daily. The building which housed the former hotel still stands and there are large silos adjacent to the railway tracks, and a bowling club and primary school are also located in the village.
Although not still held, Yerong Creek has been reported to have been the original home of the vintage rally.
The farms surrounding Yerong Creek are predominantly mixed, in the eastern district the properties are standard prime lamb grazing crops and cereal crops, to enterprises that are considered larger scale broadacre cropping operations in the western direction.
The Delta Ag building in Plunkett Street appears steeped in history as it boasts signage indicating a construction in 1923, mention of a stock and station agency heritage with former licensee ML Kennedy, and it has also housed a local barber shop, a butchery, and various hardware items have also been sold at the premises.
As well as fuel bowser sales and similar rural offerings of other Delta branches at this thriving hub, including agricultural chemicals, on-site bulk fertilizer, crop and pasture seed, seed mixing, agronomy and grain brokerage, and hardware, this site is also the post office for the village where members of the local community collect their mail on a daily basis, while deliveries are made on-farm three times each week for the rural mailboxes.
Having grown up in Yerong Creek, the 320km round trip along the rural roads surrounding the village is a route that Col Morey already knew well, but has become far more familiar with since he started employment at the Delta Ag branch four years ago, while colleague and another long-term resident of the village, Heather Beattie has the large task of sorting the mail each morning and looking after the general store.
“(Having the general store and looking after the mail services) really ensures that we stay connected to the farming community too. Other branches might go through a longer period of time especially during dry summers without seeing their clients unless they visit them on-farm, so it really keeps us in touch with their enterprises and agricultural needs,” Rob explains.
Six team members based from the Yerong Creek Delta Ag branch which is located approximately 50km south of Wagga, service a 40km radius from the township (with one large farming client also 2.5 hours away at Tocumwal). Along with Col and Heather, and Rob, who as branch manager oversees the rural operations and fertilizer distribution, Hugh Nott assists with fertilizer and rural merchandise/ag chem, agronomist David White consults with local farmers, and Tom Dinham, also spends some time working from the Wagga branch part-time.
Agronomist David White grew up on a mixed farming property south west of the Henty township and has said that he is enjoying having returned to the region in the past few years to service local farmers, adding that recent rainfall has increased positivity for the upcoming cropping season.
Branch manager Rob Wiltshire, who is originally from the Southern Highlands, has been travelling to Yerong Creek each day from Wagga for two and a half years, after having completed an agricultural science course at Charles Sturt University. Hugh Nott also travels from Wagga and has been working with Delta Ag for a year since finishing his degree in agribusiness management, while new team member Tom Dinham now shares his time between the Yerong Creek and Wagga branches.
Interestingly, Rob, Hugh and Tom, all play rugby for the Wagga Ag College side and are gearing up for another busy winter season competition ahead, and not to mention they’ll be also focusing their attention during the upcoming colder months on making sure there’s plenty of hot pies for their Delta Ag customers.