Business / Community / 3rd June 2020
TAKE FIVE: with Donna Burton from Milroy Observatory
Tell me about your business:
I have been operating as Donna the Astronomer at Milroy Observatory for the past two years. Before that I had been doing star-gazing shows for many years in town.
What goods and services do you offer?
Night time star-gazing shows and educational sessions. Day time solar viewing and astronomer talks with morning/afternoon teas.
Has your businesses been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Very much so, because of inability for people to travel and even for locals to get together in groups.
Have you been forced to change the way you do business?
Yes - I have been running virtual star-gazing sessions and planning more online activities.
Any silver linings that will you take from the COVID-19 fallout?
Through virtual star gazing, I have been able do night shows across the country and in some cases, the world. I also got a YouTube channel and podcast up and running, as well as being involved in Skype a Scientist. It’s great to realise that we can still have an impact when we can’t go out!
How does it make you feel to see some local businesses being able to re-open their doors this week?
I understand that many people are concerned by the influx of tourists and visitors from the city, but it is great to be able to go and have a coffee and sit with a friend in a coffee shop. Our town has suffered so much with the fires, then the drought and now COVID-19. I think it is great to see people able to open up and start trading again - we need it for our economy and our mental health.
With the June long weekend just days away and regional travel now allowed, are you hopeful that tourism will start to pick up?
I think we are already seeing an increase in tourist traffic and hopefully the long weekend will see more people visiting and staying overnight and spending money in the community. I have already had many bookings for the long weekend, but with the current restrictions we are very limited on how many people can come. The great thing is the fact that people want to come to our region.
How can local people help local businesses, now and into the future?
Locals need to support local businesses, but we, as local businesses, need to think outside the box and identify ways we can better serve our customers and community in these tough times. Technology is becoming more important than ever, but nothing can ever replace good old-fashioned country customer service.