SEA CHANGE: Trevor and Agnes Moore have sold the Emerald Highlands Motel and are retiring after 23 years in business.
SEA CHANGE: Trevor and Agnes Moore have sold the Emerald Highlands Motel and are retiring after 23 years in business. Taylor Battersby

Motel owners retire after two decades

AGNES and Trevor Moore finished work this week at the Emerald Highlands Motel.

They have run the motel for 23 years and now count among their dearest friends many of those who have stayed with them over the past two decades.

Mrs Moore said this week it will be the people she'll miss the most about her time as a motel owner - travellers and people passing through from all walks of life and regulars from towns such as Barcaldine, Longreach, Blackall, Alpha, Mt Isa, and Tambo.

"We had lots of people come and stay with us. We've had people who have come and stayed with us every month or every few months over the duration of the whole time we've been there.

"We used to have long chats with them when they'd come in. And they're people we now count as friends.”

Mr Moore said they would keep in touch with the friends they'd made - "real genuine people”.

In the first five years of running the motel, Agnes and Trevor didn't take a single day off and since then they've had "bits and pieces” of time out from their seven-day-a-week vocation.

Mr and Mrs Moore moved to the area in 1979 to work at the Gregory Coal Mine, and bought the motel in June 1997.

They have raised five children in the area and since they have been at the motel their children between them have had seven grandsons and seven granddaughters and they now also have five great-granddaughters and one great-grandson.

Mr and Mrs Moore said the biggest change they have noticed over the years has been the growth of the area.

"There was only 2000 people when we came here and there's 10,000-12,000 in Emerald now. We've seen a lot of changes since we came here.”

She said the mining downturn had "knocked people a bit”.

"I think people just cut back and saved and probably did it hard there for a good while, but they've kept their heads in the air and kept going.

"People have helped each other.”

Mr Moore said that during their time in the region he had been able to travel with friends to the outback, Arnhem Land, the Kimberleys, Cape York, and from Birdsville to Blackall.

He said he always loved giving advice to travellers and people new to the area when they were staying at the Emerald Highlands Motel.

"We'd tell them which highway to go on, which way to go and what there was to see around the place.

"You'd try and help them with everything you could. We'd tell people to go the Gemfields, Carnarvon Gorge, and the Botanic Gardens so they could see what was around Emerald.”

He said his favourite part of living in the region was not having to deal with the congestion of the big cities.

"It's the country life here - it's more easygoing. It's friendly and easy to get around.”

Now the couple said they'd like to plan for a visit to Tasmania and, in the meantime, Mrs Moore said she will "get into sewing, knitting and crocheting”.

The new motel owners, Haixing and Linda Chen, started work on Monday.

"They're a nice family and we wish them all the best and hopefully they do well there,” Mrs Moore said.