8 men, 5 trucks, 52 bales of hay: Helping out in 'war zone'
EIGHT men. Five trucks. Fifty-two bales of hay.
Helping farmers out west bought together three councils - Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley. They all had the same purpose.
"You always help the Aussie battlers," RVC's Tony Simpson said.
Council staff gave their time freely to travel seven hours one way to the dust bowl Narrabri has become.
Mr Simpson put his hand up when the RVC general manager said they had a load of hay to give to farmers.
He suggested bringing the water trucks, too, and after putting the idea to Kyogle councillor Hayden Doolan a quick motion was put before Kyogle Council. Lismore was quick to join in.
The convoy headed west early Saturday morning.
Narrabri mayor Cathy Redding and council general manger Stewart Todd were thrilled if not taken aback by the three councils landing on their doorstep with hay, money and messages were delivered with the water for the stock.
The men, John Castledeine, Geoff Hill, Tony Simpson, Noel Clark, Dave Attwell, Peter Gray and Warwick Ross wanted no mention of their efforts despite the drive and the shock of seeing farms that resembled a war zone.
"It is very gratifying, you see the look on the farmers' faces, they were glad to see us coming," Mr Clark said.
Cr Doolan travelled with the council crews and saw first hand from farmer Margaret Slack-Smith the effects of the drought.
"We had four days of hay left," Ms Slack-Smith said through tears as the men unloaded 11 round bales at their 350ha property.
With 160 cattle crying out for a feed, Ms Slack-Smith continued to cry. She said they had resorted to grazing cows on the sides of the road until the Lands Department declared it illegal.
Neighbours Bill and Lyn Guest said they had been losing sheep every day.
Letter from readers touched the people who received them. It wasn't about the money but knowing someone cared, Ms Slack-Smith said.