Community charity most powerful as nation deals with drought

Last minute transport approvals this week allowed a convoy of four road train hay trucks from Western Australia to turn at Tomingley and carry on, past Yeoval, and along the Banjo Patterson Way to Cumnock, in order to deliver drought relief  – as long as they were given a police escort.

With lights flashing the long line-up of oaten hay from Western Australia made its way to the Murray family farm, Norwich, where 303 large square bales have since been distributed to 44 local farmers through Rural Aid and Dominoes pizza.

Local fundraiser Nadia Murray spent the last nine weeks co-ordinating the effort and said many farmers were too proud to accept help, but now that they have relinquished they were much relieved.

“This has been a very emotional time,” she said.

On the Mid North coast, Kempsey butcher Josh Ball has organised 1400 round bales of mostly dry setaria, including 300 bales from “Willeroon, a macadamia nut farm at Bowraville, and 24 tonnes of molasses from NSW Sugar Milling Co-operative.

Additional cash and kind has amassed a total $100,000 going through the Macleay Valley Hay Run and distributed through Aussie Helpers. Beneficaries have included districts around Gundy, Muccullys Gap, Attunga, Manilla and Gunnedah – where the local controller is using his military experience to make sure the charity gets to where it is needed most.


Transport driver Trent Whitby has done nine trips to the west with hay from Kempsey and says people are asking all the time where it comes from, as supplies are increasingly scarce.

“There’s a lot of people still months away from relief,” he said.

At Dubbo last weekend a whopping 80 truckloads of round-bale hay were delivered thanks to work by the Lions club of Australia

In another charity move, Sugar cane tops are heading from the Richmond Valley to Coonamble, with 400 large square bales at half a tonne each and 200 round bales, expected to arrive on Friday. A separate load of 400 bales will also head west from the Casino district.

The Coonamble charity will be distributed through the combined livestock agents association, which will contact farmers in need and allot hay through a ballot system.

Organiser Brian O’Farrell, Evans Head, said a fundraiser at the local bowling club raised an additional $22,500 in cash and $50,000 in kind.

“For a little community it’s got a big heart,” he said.


The variety of feed is getting more diverse, now that supplies of hay are shrinking, with market fruit and spuds included in the rations.

Daly Potato Company, Dunalley, Tasmania, donated 41 tonnes of second-grade product to the Orange district with the assistance of Quinns Transport and Tas Petroleum. They crossed Bass Strait before being trucked 1300 kilometres to arrive last week.

The Daly family had already donated eight tonnes to the Dubbo region and are calling for donations to help send another 40 tonnes of produce to Tamworth. 

Some vets are warning producers to monitor stock when they are first eating potatoes as these can get stuck in their esophagus.