BILL Lovel, licensee of Natimuk's National Hotel, has been tearing up a bit recently.
At midday on Monday, the federal government forced all pubs to shut except for takeaways.
At 11.59pm on Wednesday night, Parks Victoria closed Mount Arapiles' Centenary Park campground - normally full of climbers at this time of year - as it did all campgrounds across the state.
Though necessary measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, it has meant the pub will find it hard to survive without sustained support.
Enter former Natimuk GP Dr Rob Grenfell, who is calling on each member of the town to order one takeaway meal from the pub every week.
"The survival of its only pub is important to a town like Natimuk," said Dr Grenfell, who has been co-ordinating the CSIRO's coronavirus research team from his home in Natimuk for the past few days.
"It's not just a place you go to have a beer or a counter meal: people have birthday and celebrations here. If we lose it, we lose Bill and Anne, who are great community members, all the jobs and the spirit of the town."
Dr Grenfell, who practised in Natimuk for 13 years, remembered it having an important role in recovering from other recent disasters, such as the 2011 floods.
"Twenty-two houses in Natimuk was flooded, one of which was mine. Neighbours took my wife Genevieve and I in, but there were other less fortunate people in the town," he said.
"One poor chap was sleeping in a tarpaulin next to another building, and Bill went and found him and put him up in the pub. It's that sort of stuff that says to me this can't go under.
"If you go back to... before Bill and Anne had the place, the former owner said his shoulders were made of leather from the number of tears that had been on them. When i came back during the millennium drought the Wimmera was a sombre place, and a lot of counselling was given in the pub by skillful owners."
Dr Grenfell said he hoped residents of other Wimmera towns would work to save local businesses the way he was attempting to get Natimuk to, and that it would be hard for and residents who had recently lost jobs.
Mr Lovel said along with takeaways, the bottleshop was also still open. He said the climbing shop, Nati cafe and general store were also still open.
"I'm putting on less lights to save money: I didn't bother turning the laundry light on today when doing some washing," he said.
"We've probably had about 20 people come each night since we started takeaways on Wednesdays. It's better than nothing, and we're trying to negotiate with the owners to see what we can do. I've spoken with the bank too.
"Yesterday a fella came in a bought five slabs, and someone came from Horsham for a meal. That's when I thought if we go down, we should go down swinging instead of just closing."
The pub is open for meals Wednesday to Saturday.
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