Have you seen the affects of the drought for yourself? All of the photos and news footage in the world would not prepare you for the personal experience.
I am a new member of the Bone Dry Hay Run fundraising group and on Friday 15th November I drove out of Natures’ Best Water in Penrith, behind a semi-trailer of drinking water, headed to Brewarrina in far northwestern NSW. The truck was driven by my brother, Dave, who donated his time. The truck was provided by his company, Freight Specialists, free of charge. They covered the cost of the truck and the fuel and we are so very grateful for this as it will make our funds stretch further.
We left the greenness of the Blue Mountains behind us and watched the landscape dry and crack. Fields of brown. Fields of grey. The highway littered with roadkill where animals had tempted fate to nibble tiny morsels of green grass along the roadside.
I have done a lot of outback driving in NSW, QLD and NT. In the past I have seen paddocks full of stock – cattle and sheep – all fat and healthy. This time, the landscape was bare. No stock, no feed – just barren hectares of nothing. Sloping hills of dust.
At midnight we pulled into Redmond Transport in Brewarrina and parked our precious load. We were surprised to see Trevor from the River View Motel there to meet us. He had estimated our travel time and wanted to make sure we got to the motel safely. On the way into town we passed a large active group of indigenous youth in the park. I was pleased to have an escort.
With the high gates securely locked and after a quick cup of tea and Vegemite toast, we headed to our rooms. As I opened the bathroom door, the smell of the water assaulted my nostrils. It was rank. Not fit for drinking and even when boiled the taste tainted everything. The next day I was told that tea, coffee and even boiled vegetables carried the flavour.
On Saturday morning I met up with the other members of the Bone Dry group who had made the trip out to Bree for the weekend. We headed to the transport depot to unload 22 pallets (over 22,000 litres) of bottled drinking water. We were also meant to be unloading 2 B-Double trucks (70 tonnes) of hay, but bushfire road closures down south had turned our trucks around for now. Most of our water was transferred to smaller trucks and taken for storage, waiting for the hay which would arrive in the coming week. The water was primarily for the out of town farmers who did not have access to town water. They would take their allocation when they picked up the stockfeed.
We did assign a few pallets for distribution that morning and ute after ute arrived to take their share. The gratitude was evident, we were thanked, and thanked again. The locals told us that they were heartened by our acts and the fact that city folk cared enough to raise the money and then take the time to personally deliver such necessities to them. Tears in some eyes, “Thank you so much for what you are doing”. But in essence, they were thanking each of you, the generous people in our local community back home. It is true that the Bone Dry Hay Run group takes the time and makes the effort to organise events, but the money comes from all of us and each of you. Every ticket purchased to an event, a raffle ticket, participation in our money games. Every cent adds up and not a single dollar is paid to a member of our group for our time or skills. We even buy tickets to our own events. Everything goes to helping the farmers.
We have one more fundraiser planned for this year – Comedy for a Cause on Saturday 30th November 2019 at the Galston Club. Doors open at 7:00pm. The headline act is Peter Berner, supported by David Smiedt, John Cruckshank and Andrew Paskin. Tickets are just $35 (+ booking fee) and are available from comedyforacause.net/bonedry. It is an adults only 18+ show. Please come along with your family and friends for a good laugh for a great cause.
We are hoping that funds raised will enable us to supply a final load of hay or water in mid December, along with Christmas hamper bags for each farming family that we are helping.
I truly believe that we will all be rewarded in some way by showing generosity and kindness to others. The gratitude of the farmers is enough reward for me.