Initial aim was to donate a 100 bales hay, result 22 trucks laden with hay and fencing materials.
The lyrics from a song written about the bush and community ‘from little things big things grow’ perhaps best sums up what was achieved by the organisers of Fire relief hay run – Scone.
On the last weekend in February, this social media driven appeal, achieved something very special for the victims of the Sir Ivan bush fire.
Two weeks earlier this devastating fire wiped out the village of Uarbry burnt through 55,000 hectares in Cassilis, Coolah, Dunedoo districts, destroying homes, farm infrastructure and an estimated 6,000 head of livestock.
Two days after the fire Aberdeen dairyfarmer Brad Smith a member of the Dartbrook and Moore Creek (Tamworth) Rural Fire Service, got on the phone to his mate Lachie White and the pair decided to organise a truck load of hay to assist farmers.
“I initially thought if we could get 100 bales and take them to out to affected farmers and that would be a help,” said Brad.
“Then Mark Hemmings got on board and upped the effort and said lets try to get a semi load.
“So we started a facebook page, opened a bank account for those who couldn’t donate hay and it grew from there and boy did it grow.”
Brad said the first donation was $5 and he sent a facebook message of thanks.
“But after that we had so many wonderful donations I simply couldn’t keep up with the thanks – sorry folks we were really overwhelmed by people’s generosity,” he said.
For example someone suggested a meat raffle at a local hotel it grew into an auction night at the Durham Hotel in Wingen that raised $22,000.
In total they raised $26,500 and from the first drive to obtain hay Brad said they moved their focus to buying fencing materials.
“Farmers in the bush fire areas were telling us that they really needed help with replacing fencing,” he said.
“We also knew we had a number of trucks coming with donated hay and other appeals had made hay deliveries.”
One farmer lost 70 kilometres of fencing which would cost in materials alone $2 million and many had no insurance for their fences, he said.
Brad estimated a truck load of hay is worth $10,000 but that same truck carrying fencing gear if worth $60,000.
So instead by buying hay with the donated monies the oraginsers purchased three pallets of hinge lock, 200 star pickets, two pallets of barbed wire, one pallet of plain wire, 30 gates and 120 steel stay assemblies.
They also called on volunteers to assist with unloading the hay and material and work on fence building and asked any local fencing contractors to come out to run the volunteer fencing effort.
“The response was fantastic 100 volunteers and eight contractors worked on the weekend. We can’t thank everyone involved enough,” said Brad.
Asked to describe the situation of the ground in the affected areas Brad said imagine how bad you think its is then times it by ten.
“I have seen plenty of bush fires and grass fires but nothing like this, fire has destroyed all the ground cover leaving just the dirt,” he said.
With that first hand experience Brad is keen to organise another ‘volunteer’ weekend at the end April.
He would love as many people as possible to get on board especially fencing contractors and those with access to earth moving equipment to get in and make a dent in the fence rebuilding.
To contact Brad: firstname.lastname@example.org