Doors close for Ferntree Gully newsagent owners

Des Higginbotham says goodbye to his Ferntree Gully news agency. Picture: Stewart Chambers 369340_06

By Tanya Faulkner

One Ferntree Gully couple are marking the end of an era by closing the doors on a special chapter in the community.

Des Higginbotham, and his wife Linda, are well known residents of the Ferntree Gully, and have been proud owners of the local newsagency for the last three decades.

He said his time over the years has been nothing short of positive in the Ferntree Gully community, with lots of changes over the years to contend with.

“News agencies have changed a lot over the years.

“Ever since they took the newspaper distribution away from us, it changed the whole dynamic.

“We lost a lot of traffic flow, and a lot of cash flow – we used to give tasty trucks 1200 suns a day, with serious money!”

“News agents are dying, if it hadn’t been for tax lotto wouldn’t have survived,” he said.

He said it was a very different Ferntree Gully from when they took over the old post office building 27 years ago.

“I have to say, when I first came here there were four banks, a police station, a court house, and a major post office, but now it’s all gone.

“We’ve had more stress on a strip shopping centre.

“There’s a lot of strength in the local community, but areas close to railway stations are now being more developed into medium density housing.

“Our newsagency has been bought by a developer, and they’re planning on keeping the ground floor as storefronts, and apartments on top,” he said.

Mr Higgenbotham said he’s always had support over the years from Ferntree Gully locals and visitors, past and present, but now is his time.

“I’m 74 now, it’s time to go,”

“Linda and I have been in Ferntree Gully for over 30 years.

“We’re a part of the community, and we’ve loved our time here.

“I’m still on the board of the Bendigo Bank, and I plan to keep community attachments here,” he said.

Mr Higginbotham wasn’t always in the newsagency all these years, coming from a life in education before making the switch.

“I was a teacher for 18 years.

“My wife and I moved onto this, and I can’t really think of a bad time at all.

“The people of Ferntree Gully are wonderful, we’ve made a lot of friends.

“I’ll be around, I intend to go out amongst the community,” he said.

Mr Higginbotham has also developed a reputation in the Ferntree Gully as the local therapist, of which many locals took to social media wondering who they would talk to now.

“They’ll probably have to go and see a psychiatrist.

“I’ve done nearly everything except deliver babies around here, when it comes to solving problems.

“We have an older demographic in our community, and they’re all so lovely.

“I will miss them all, they’ve all been wonderful people.

“But they will have to find someone else to solve their problems,” he said.

Mr Higginbotham said he and his wife have a lot of plans for their retirement in the foreseeable future.

“We’ll probably do a bit of travel, do a bit of repair work on the Ponderosa… and then we’ll ride off into the sunset,” he said.

Do a bit of travel, bit of repair work on the ponderosa and then ‘ride off into the sunset’

The final day for the News Agency is Saturday 4 November, before the doors close on the final page of the Higginbotham’s chapter.