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Mowing madness after rain brings lush, green grass to south-east Queensland yards

By Scott Lamond, Wednesday February 19, 2020 - 15:44 EDT
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Bundaberg mower mechanic Chris Walden says his business has gone from almost bust to booming after the rain. - ABC

It's hot and steamy with the strong smell of two-stroke fuel and grass clippings in the air, while a long line of customers wait to be served at Chris Walden's Bundaberg mower shop in south-east Queensland.

Customers are struggling to find room in a store taken over by hundreds of mowers waiting to be picked up or ready for repair. It's a sign the rain has finally come, and it has saved Mr Walden's business from going bust.

He simply cannot keep up with demand for sales, services, and repairs.

"After 25 years, I haven't seen anything like it," Mr Walden said with a smile.

"We have about 120 repair and service jobs in front of us and we're trying to get them out in a week, so we've been working day and night."

From the lowest of lows at the end of 2019 when drought in Bundaberg slashed demand for sales and repairs, Mr Walden said he could hardly pay the bills and was in contact with the bank in fear his business was about to collapse.

"It's so hard to believe, after being in the industry so long," he said.

"I'm 41 and have been in a mower shop since I was two years old, but the past 12 months was the toughest of tough and quite emotional to go through."

Mr Walden said some businesses like his have had to close their doors but he's relieved he survived.

Every space in his business is filled with lawn care equipment including the show room, and family members have been called in to assist him with the constant calls and customers dropping in.

"We're going home at 9:30 each night and we just can't stay in front, at the counter we will have three or four staff on and a line-up of eight people waiting to be served," he said.

"We've run out of room out the back and we've never had that problem before."

Grass definitely greener

A few kilometres away, over the Burnett River in Bundaberg North, it's a very similar story for mower mechanic Harry Sanderson.

The rain has been a long time coming and the sound of mowers in suburban Bundaberg hasn't been heard for nearly a year.

With no lawns being mowed, no garden equipment needing repairs or blades changed, recent rain finally means the grass is green and the mowers are back in business.

Mr Sanderson has worked on mowers for more than 35 years and says the turnaround has been breathtaking.

"In the past month we've gone from wondering why we are here to absolutely stupid," he said.

"Start early and knock off late is all we can do."

The hot and wet weather in south-east Queensland has seen lawns transformed from dirt to lush grass in just a few weeks.

Social media has been filled with before-and-after photos of suddenly green paddocks and yards.

It's perfect conditions for grass according to Mr Sanderson who said you could almost watch the grass grow and just asked for people to be patient.

"We are all in the same boat," he tiredly explains.

"The grass is growing an inch overnight."

Main issue with mowers

With mowers sitting in sheds for months unused, Mr Walden said he was mainly attending to the same few issues.

Fuel left in the tank of mowers goes stale and that can cause problems for mowers.

"90 per cent of the issues is with stale fuel, from sitting around for so long," he said.

"Two-stroke will go off after about 30 days and often we just flush the fuel and our customers are right to go."

Mr Walden also advised not to use fuel that had been left in jerry cans for long periods of time.


© ABC 2020

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