Cheap fuel gridlock

Clough brothers Zac, Kane and Paul with Cr Graeme Moore and Shell (Vivid Energy) Regional Operation Manager Terry Kelly. 184611_09 Pictures: KYRA GILLESPIE

By Kyra Gillespie

The Clough family has officially reinstated the highway access to their family-owned service station, marking the end of a lengthy battle with contending fuel companies who tried to stamp them out of existence.

On Monday 27 August an official ribbon cutting saw Clough brothers Paul, Kane and Zac take the first test drive on the new access ramp.

To mark the monumental occasion, the servo offered unleaded fuel at just 99.9 cents a litre.

The markdown garnered a colossal response from the community, with hundreds of cars banked up along the old highway in the hopes of scoring a cheap refill.

Known for its cheap fuel and friendly service, the popular service station had its access cut off when the Pakenham Bypass opened over a decade ago.

The Clough family fought the access termination for years and were only given the all-clear to sign with Drouin-based contractors A1 Group to carry out the works at the start of this year.

The project took around 6-8 months to complete.

“It’s amazing to have this back after being cut off for so long,” Zac Clough said.

“It’s been a long, hard journey for the business, which we couldn’t have survived without the support of our loyal customers who stood by us all these years.

“It’s good to see it opened not just for the service station, but for our customers too.”

The Clough family fought various authorities to have the access restored since their business was left stranded in 2007, headed by passionate founder Bruce Clough, who unfortunately passed away before seeing the road reinstated.

“Dad really pushed to make this happen, so it’s good to be able to finish it for him.”

In that time the car dealership moved from the Nar Nar Goon site to the South East Business Park in Pakenham and changed its name from Bruce Clough Mazda to Pakenham Mazda.

The service station remains in operation on the old site.

Eldest son Paul Clough said that while the developer-funded road cost a fortune, it was a worthwhile investment.

“It was very expensive to build, but I think it will pay off in the long run,” he said.

“Giving our customers an outlet back onto the freeway is going to make it a lot easier for them, especially for our truckies who are strapped for time.

“We’ve got customers who have been filling up here all their life. We started selling fuel here in 1974 and had people coming here ever since.”

When their access was terminated in 2007, the family-run business arranged to redevelop the road with VicRoads and Cardinia Shire.

Approvals for the work were delayed when operators of the service centres at Longwarry took the matter to VCAT.

Mr Clough said the fact that the service station was still able to operate on a dead-end road abutting a national highway was a credit to the loyalty of a primarily local customer base.

“It’s been a long time, with a couple of goes in and out of VCAT.

“This really marks the closure to what has been a drawn out process.”

Pakenham resident Adam Smith said he was “so excited” by the road opening.

“They not only have the best fuel prices in the region, but the best customer service too,” Mr Smith said.

“My parents live out in Longwarry so I’m always having to double back to use this service station.

“Not having to go onto the Bypass is going to be great. It’s really great to see something so good happen to a small business family like this.”

Nar Nar Goon resident Scott Smith said that while he was thrilled for the business, it should have happened sooner.

“This should have happened a long time ago,” he said.

Another customer said he’d been filling up at the Nar Nar Goon servo on and off for 35 years.

Cardinia Shire Councillor Graeme Moore was one of the first in line to use the new access road.

“I’ve been involved with this push for a number of years now,” he said.

“This will take a lot of pressure off local roads,” he said.