WA drivers scramble
PERTH is about as far away from drought-stricken New South Wales as it is possible to get and not cross oceans, but that hasn’t stopped much-needed hay making the lengthy journey from WA.
About 20 road trains carrying 2000 bales of hay made their way across the Nullarbor to the central west of NSW, a journey of 3500km.
Such was the response from WA truckies to the plight of farmers on the other side of the country that it took less than a week to put the convoy together, according to the Rapid Relief Team (RRT) charity.
RRT, an initiative of the Plymouth Brethren church, purchased more than $660,000 of WA hay which is enough to feed 1000 cows or 20,000 sheep for a fortnight.
RRT spokesman Alex Sharpe said communities, farmers and businesses had rallied to the cause.
“Some of the drivers are donating their time, some are doing a route they wouldn’t normally do, others are driving for companies, but in most cases they’ve personally put their hands up,” Mr Sharpe said.
As part of the relief effort, the managing director of Watsons Logistics and Transport Robert Watson donated two trucks loaded with 80 tonnes of hay.
While he felt there was little WA could usually do to help the east coast in other situations, the drought in NSW was one where they could offer assistance.
“This is something we can do so we put out hand up,” he said.
“It’s Australia and everyone gets together and helps out.”
RRT is also supplying $260,000 of food vouchers.
Vouchers of $100 per family will go to 200 families for the next 13 weeks.
Separately, Michael Morgan of Morgan Feeds in Toodyay is donating about 20 tonnes or about $9000 worth of pellets, which will go by rail to NSW next week.
Other charities are also scrambling to bring relief to farmers, including the Queensland-based Drought Angels which has been helping farming families in need – many in dire straits – since January 2014.
Natasha Johnston and Nicki Blackwell started fundraising after they heard stories of farmers struggling to put food on their tables.
They began by helping just one family but such was the heartfelt gratitude of those they helped it spurred them on to continue helping struggling families in any way the could, in any place they found them.
Over the past four years, the charity raised more than $2m and distributed.
Now they are helping to get hay to the driest areas of both Queensland and NSW.
“We are sourcing hay... and getting it sent down to the families we’re helping in NSW,” Natasha said.
They’ve now helped farmers in Dubbo, Coonamble, Cobar, Bourke, Mudgee and Guneedah.
It may be a small charity but it offers “a listening ear, a warm hug and personalised support to each family”.
The charity’s website says: “We like to tell our families that this is not a handout but a thank you. We help those who would not normally reach out but prefer to battle it alone, which can lead to severe depression and in some cases suicide”.
Donations can be made to droughtangels.org.au.