Edwina Robertson makes her way around drought stricken NSW

STORIES: Edwina Robertson started here at Quast Turkey Farm, as the extent of NSW that’s in drought reaches 54.7 per cent, and another 45.1 per cent is on drought watch.
STORIES: Edwina Robertson started here at Quast Turkey Farm, as the extent of NSW that’s in drought reaches 54.7 per cent, and another 45.1 per cent is on drought watch.

A POULTRY producer, a boutique business owner and a smaller-scale grazier were first on the One Bucket list when photographer Edwina Robertson stopped in Tamworth yesterday.

Ms Robertson is telling the stories of people who are hurting as almost the entire state is listed in drought or at imminent risk of it.

With her aim to document of a variety of perspectives, she learnt about the effects on Quast Turkeys, Magic Pudding and a grazier on the edge of town.

Ms Robertson said Col Quast had told of the financial struggle of sourcing feed for the family-owned Tintinhull turkey farm, when normally it would be home-grown.

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Sara Winston-Smith of the Magic Pudding had shared the effect on small businesses when the money stopped flowing from farmer to town and people simply didn’t have the money for the non-essentials.

And the grazier had shared the challenges of finding and feeding fodder to cattle just about to enter the hardship of the middle of winter.

“They seemed positive but, at the same time, you know they’re hurting,” Ms Robertson said.

“They’re not in dire straits yet, but it’s hard and going to get harder … It’s not just farmers and graziers affected by the drought – everyone’s feeling the pinch.”

Social push

Ms Robertson’s campaign is also challenging people to spend a day using no more than one bucket of water, and to donate to those people for whom that is a reality.

Almost 7000 people are already following the One Bucket journey and campaign on Facebook.

Her next meetings are in Coonabarabran – on level 6 water restrictions as its dam grows dangerously low – then Cassilis and Merriwa.

Ms Robertson said she’d already spoken to many people as she arranged her trip and meetings, and there were a few tales that had particularly struck her.

“There are people taking their kids out of school, either because they can’t afford boarding school or because they can’t afford to pay for labour and need the help,” she said.

“There are farmers that have run out of water and they’re bathing in dirty dam water … 

“I’m not a politician, I’m not a journalist, I’m pretty unskilled – but I do have a voice and enough of a profile to bring attention to this issue.

“I can’t not do something.”