“I’m just working out the last stages now of where to go in outback NSW and Queensland to make sure all the outback kids get that thrill of giving and a couple of toys from Santa,” he said.
Then it’s on to the Big One, co-ordinating up to 300 truckies carrying up to 10,000 big bales into Quilpie, Queensland, and surrounds for the 15th Burrumbuttock run on January 26.
With the help of faithful PA Belinda Burley co-ordinating the massive convoy and logistics of it, Brendan and his army of devoted drivers are hoping to reach up to 700 farmers.
While thrilled with the uptake of truckies pitching in to help, he said he’d always welcome more.
“The more the merrier,” he said.
“Each truck driver gets $2000 in fuel and that’s it. It’s not a paying exercise, I call it the thrill of giving.”
Brendan says many factors go into how he chooses which area to target, including talking to cockies in different parts of NSW and Queensland.
“I usually go for a drive as well, take the dog in the ute and we’ll go out for a couple of days,” he said.
“And I have known that Quilpie and Thargomindah have been dry for a while and they’ve also been forgotten about as well.
“Everyone thinks the drought went from Dubbo to Tamworth.”
Brendan says there’s one farmer in the Quilpie region whose story typifies why he’s so driven to help.
“He’s been hand-feeding his cattle for six-and-a-half years, every day, and he’s 68 years old,” he said.
“Once I’ve got the load of hay off to him, I usually spend two or three days with him as well and just talk to him about life. That’s just how I work. There are a lot of farmers in a lot of trouble at the moment.
“Yes, there has been some rain around the area but I’ll tell you what, the drought never went away. It’s just intensifying and getting ready for this summer.”
Brendan admits it can take its toll on his own health at times, trying to keep the dream alive for our farmers with so little in the way of resources.
But he can feel the tide turning. Aside from Freightliner, heavy hitters like NTI, Polaris Australia (see sidebar) and Ritchies IGA Cobram are major sponsors in 2019 and a host of others assist in all manner of ways.
“There are days when you just don’t want to answer the phone or do anything,” he said.
“Then there are days when you see something and think ‘that shit’s unreal, I’ve got to keep going, I’ve made that person’s day’.”
If you can help in January, Brendan wants to hear from you.
Brendan has been storing hay in readiness for Australia Day.