POWER was off in some parts of Wonthaggi until 5.16pm last Sunday and until 3pm in Korumburra as AusNet Services conducted a day of planned maintenance and upgrades.
The works affected the main commercial centres in both towns, but in the true spirit of the Anzacs, the beer continued to flow at both locations.
In Wonthaggi, large parts of Murray Street, McBride Avenue, Graham Street and McKenzie Street were affected with some businesses simply closing for the day while others brought in generators, at their own expense, to keep trading.
Among the businesses closed for the day in Wonthaggi, or until power was returned, were KFC in Graham Street, at one end of the CBD, the Wonthaggi Whalebones Hotel in Murray Street, in the middle, and Bakers Delight in the Plaza Arcade, at the far end.
Coles was unaffected.
Both of the town’s clubs; the Wonthaggi Workmen’s Club and The Wonthaggi Club, were closed for much of the day with the only licensed premises open during that time being The Caledonian Hotel in Graham Street.
Needless to say, they did a roaring trade.
“You’d like that to happen every day,” said a spokesperson for the Cally.
In Korumburra, the BP service station at the top of the town was closed during the outage as was Kelly’s Bakery Café, a popular stopping off place on a Sunday.
“We did bring in a generator for the day but only for the ovens. The bakery was open until about 3pm but not the café,” said Lyn Kelly.
Meanwhile several businesses battled on without power, like the Austral Hotel at the top of the town, which kept the beer flowing and the food coming (cooking with gas) for patrons.
“It was a bit of a pain because the tills weren’t working and you had to write everything down but we got through,” said a spokesperson.
Both towns were filled with AusNet Services trucks and other contractors for the day.
A spokeswoman for AusNet Services said customers in both towns had been given several weeks warning of what was a major maintenance and upgrade event.
“Two large planned maintenance jobs were held in Wonthaggi and Korumburra on Sunday. Both jobs involved general maintenance and upgrade work,” said AusNet.
“In Wonthaggi, the field crew replaced several low voltage poles, rebuilt a substation, and conducted other general maintenance. This affected 656 customers.
“In Korumburra, multiple poles and other equipment were replaced. This affected 230 customers.
“We want to thank customers for their patience and understanding during this work.”
President of the Wonthaggi Business and Tourism Association, Dee Connell, said AusNet had given fair warning about the power outage, and she hadn’t received any negative feedback.
“I think people understand that if the work’s got to be done, it’s got to be done,” said Dee.
“Personally, we’re not open here in Wonthaggi on a Sunday, only at Bass, so we were unaffected but I have noticed some power problems in recent months, burning out the element in one of our pie heaters and a few other things. Quite a bit really.
“So I hope they have sorted that out,” she said.
The power outage forced shoppers to make a few adjustments. In Woolworths where aisles were dark because store-generated power didn’t allow a full coverage of lights, customers used their mobile phone lights to check prices. One enterprising shopper even bought a torch and batteries from the accessories aisle to help with grocery selection.
And, with checkout conveyor belts not working, shoppers had to move their own purchases forward.
And without a generator at the Telstra hub, we wouldn’t have been able to make phone calls… what slaves we are to technology now!