We all know the power of social media and the good it can be used for in raising awareness of an issue, but little did Catherine Hollow ever think that a photo of her twin sister on her drought stricken property would go so viral.
In June, Ms Hollow posted a photo of her sister Lilly (Elizabeth) on her Warialda property. It didn’t take long for the post to reach thousands of people.
A former country girl from Warialda, who has since moved to Sydney, Ms Hollow took the photo in February 2018, but decided to share the image after hearing City people complain about the rain.
“It took me a while to share the photo, it felt quite private in a way, like I’d captured something raw and real. But, as I was sitting in that café on a rainy weekend, I overheard a few of the negative comments about the weather and I thought, these people just have no idea,” Ms Hollow said.
“It’s not their fault but I was saddened that this awful situation was occurring outside of Sydney and no body seemed to realise it.”
Ms Hollow said Australia is known for its mateship, and the way in which we help each other out, yet there is a large chunk of the population that are completely unaware of our mates doing it tough in the drought-stricken farming communities.
“I think you can be going through a rough time but if you’re going through a rough time and you think no one cares, well that’s the worst feeling in the world,” she said.
According to the Department of Primary Industries Combined Drought Indicator 99.8 per cent of NSW is impacted by drought.
Ms Hollow described her twin sister as “an incredibly strong woman”, but knew Lilly was going through a difficult time due to the drought.
“We have a very special bond – might be the twin thing - and I just knew I had to be there with her. The days were long in February, swelteringly hot and just seemed to drag on,” Ms Hollow said.
“She’s an incredibly strong woman and as I stood on the back of the ute and looked around it hit me just how horrendous the drought situation had become. My heart broke.”
Ms Hollow said although she doesn’t visit home as often as she would like, she does speak to her mother and sister weekly, but neither mentioned how dire the situation was becoming.
“I realised it was a silent battle, at times a personal one, and country folk are rather shy talking about feelings,” Ms Hollow said.
“She (Lilly) looked up at me, her beautiful cows gathered around her, with such fierce determination and I thought that I needed to capture it so that she could look back and be reminded of that time and how she got through it.”
Ms Hollow’s post has been shared more than four thousands times and received over seven thousand reactions and 455 comments.
She said seeing the image go so viral was overwhelming, but heartening to see so many people interested in lending a hand or sending their well wishes, thoughts and prayers.
“It was beautiful to see the words of support and I know that that meant so much to the farmers that are struggling,” Ms Hollow said.
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While it’s been a few months now since the image was taken in February and shared in June, the drought has continued, but Ms Hollow said her sister is “just getting on with it”.
“She’s currently feeding out four times a week so that the cattle are still encouraged to forage for the very little feed that is left. Pest management takes up time after dark, the feral pigs and kangaroos are out of control,” Ms Hollow said.
“The tractor is parked literally outside the backdoor of the house so that when the sun comes up in the morning she can jump on in and feed out before heading to town.”
I realised it was a silent battle, at times a personal one, and country folk are rather shy talking about feelings.Catherine Hollow
Thankfully Ms Hollow said Lilly has a job in town and that the second income has never been so important.
“But it leaves so little time to do all the farm jobs," she said.
“Fortunately, they’ve been very understanding and a quick message saying that she’ll be late due to a feed run is always met with a “no worries”.