Burrumbuttock Hay Runners, Longreach
A friend and I were lucky to join the Burrumbuttock Hay runners travel from the southern states to mid-north Queensland. In their own words they are "a bunch of blokes trying to help out a fellow Aussie in times of hardship." In actuality, they're an inspiring collection of farmers and community members (men and women) from around the country who donate their time and hay to drought affected parts of the country. You can check out their facebook page here.
We met them 2 hours south of Longreach and jumped on a truck in a line of 300+ that had come from as far south as Tasmania. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of hay is donated, not to mention the time farmers give-up from looking after their own farms to drive for days in support of their struggling colleagues. The silhouette of the trucks riding the dusty horizon is breathtaking.
There are many hard-working farmers who have either sold stock, lost stock to starvation, given up their lifelong passion or succumbed to bankruptcy. Travelling along the vast desert plains it is easy to imagine how people might feel alone and forgotten. We met many families who had lost loved ones to mental illness and who were fortified by seeing support coming from around the country. The coordination involved between organisers, police, emergency services and all the volunteers who provide food, drinks, somewhere for the truck drivers to sleep at night was immense. There were timed toilet breaks transmitted through 2-way radios so 300 trucks could stop safely: "boys out the right, girls out the left," people stood on trailers handing out sandwiches as the trucks drove past and locals opened their homes for hot showers at night.
We set-up a little clinic behind the pub for podiatry and general practice, and another table at the campsite. Our services were appreciated, but I felt even more privileged to witness Australian solidarity at it's finest.
To date, the hay runners have completed 11 mammoth trips around the country.