From ‘Bumpa’

Big Rigs - - COVER STORY -

“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’.”

PHO­TOS: GRAEME NEANDER

If you can help in Jan­uary, Bren­dan wants to hear from you.

Bren­dan has been stor­ing hay in readi­ness for Aus­tralia Day.

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