by Tara Cassidy
WHILE its weekend rodeo brought visitors by the thousands, the small town of Nebo is struggling to stay afloat with basic services like medical care, groceries and internet access becoming hard to acquire.
Nebo Community Development Group treasurer Gary Coombs said several issues were raised with federal and local members over a year ago, but little to nothing had been done, in fact some services have become even more scarce.
"Our Nebo Medical Centre is our biggest problem," he said.
"The issue is trying to get funding for a doctor on a regular basis; at the moment we just have one that comes out once a month and we'll just be notified on the day.
"It's a very small window of opportunity, particularly for people that work or have prominent health issues that might need more regular visits.
"The only other option is to drive all the way into Mackay or Sarina, now with the damage to the Sarina Range both are really lengthy trips."
Mr Coombs said the Community Development Group meeting, taking place Monday night, hoped to address some of these issues, as well as the possibility of bringing a small grocery store to town and improved internet service.
"Telstra did an upgrade but it has done very little, especially for internet users on the outskirts of the town," Mr Coombs said.
"Something still needs to change. It makes it very hard for people to make a living out here, as a business owner I rely on the internet and phone service to keep us going."
"Telstra said they don't plan to do any improvements and NBN won't be coming out here, just wireless, but what we've got right now just isn't enough."
On top of ongoing issues with the available facilities and services, Mr Coombs said Cyclone Debbie also managed to make her mark by causing damage to the Sarina and Eton ranges, two vital links for the town.
"To get around people have to go down Eton Range, and roadworks on them at the moment is adding about 20 minutes on to your trip one way," he said.
"Wide loads can't use that range at all so mine workers now have to go to Bowen, Collinsville and back to Nebo just to get out to the Bowen Basin.
"It's just becoming an inconvenient place to go, people won't just come out here for a drive either because it's too hard to get here, a lot of businesses rely on those commuters."
Mr Coombs felt the only way for the town to turn things around was for residents to come together and start voicing their concerns.
"We're a small town, if we don't stick together and start speaking up nothing is going to happen," he said.
"We have a lot of issues we need to work though, but right now we don't have a voice, we need people to start turning up to our development group meetings and talking about the problems they're facing and what they want done.
"The more people we have on board the more the politicians that often come to the meetings will listen and start acting."
Member for Mirani Jim Pearce said while he wasn't able to attend Monday night's meeting, he was aware of the issues plaguing Nebo year after year.
"I do understand they've been looking for a more regular doctor for Nebo," Mr Pearce said.
"Unfortunately Queensland Health has come back to many of our enquiries and said they didn't believe the town's numbers would sustain a fair workload for a permanent doctor.
"That being said though, I certainly feel that they could have visits on a more regular basis, perhaps fortnightly would be acceptable, we are trying but it is a difficult task getting them out to rural areas."
Mr Pearce said other prominent issues such as the need for a supermarket in the town and better facilities, came down to population and demand.
He said more coal mines in the area would put Nebo in a better position for "bigger and better" services to survive.
"Nebo is a great little community but I think it's all about the demand for bigger and better services with any of these things, due to the smaller population it's difficult to support an argument to say such businesses would survive.
"To my understanding one thing that is putting the town in a better position to acquiring these things is the potential population increase from more coal mines in the area.
"I understand the mining companies are talking about housing people locally and that will lend itself to getting more people there and in turn more services and facilities."
The Community Development Group meeting will be held 5.45pm Monday night at the Nebo Memorial Hall.