WHEN Kaz and Barbara Steindl moved to Duaringa 37 years ago, Kaz barely spoke English and they knew being accepted by the local community of farmers may be a challenge.
But Duaringa welcomed the duo with open arms, and as the proud new owners of the service station all those years ago, they became part of the community.
Now, the Steindls have sold the business, and they said even they can barely believe how far they have come.
The BP is open 24 hours per day with about 20 staff now, but when they took the reins it was just Kaz and Barbara working the 24 hours of shifts – often taking turns to sleep out the back.
Kaz said what began as an annual turnover of $500,000 per year has grown to $20 million per year.
The popular duo, who now consider themselves locals, met when Barbara was staying with relatives in Poland.
Soon after they began dating, and eventually moved to Australia to live in Canberra before taking the plunge and moving to Duaringa.
“I said where is Duaringa, and Barbara’s brother said ‘near Rockhampton’, and I said ‘where is Rockhampton’, and he said ‘seven hours north of Brisbane’, and I said ‘I know Brisbane!’,” Kaz laughed.
“There’s farmers in the district, and they really helped us a lot – but at the beginning it was very tough for me because my English was not very good, so they need to talk to Barbara very often instead of me.”
Over time the couple saw the value of supporting local organisations and sponsored many events over their time in the region.
A local golf day to raise funds for the ambulance was eventually nicknamed Kaz’s Day, but Barbara said there was often more vodka (Polish, of course) involved than golf.
The couple won’t be moving far, having purchased a nearby 3844ha farm in recent years.
They are running 600 head of pure Angus cattle and have 2025ha of cultivation from which they recently harvested chickpeas and wheat.
“I think it’s time we have to go out and smell the roses a little bit and enjoy ourselves,” Barbara said.
“We won’t be going too far though, because we still own the motel and have the farm.”