When Hunter man David Grant searched his own name, and added Coonabarabran, into the Google search bar he had no idea what he’d find.
When the search results came in he realised a livestock agent in drought-stricken Coonabarabran – a town which is almost out of water – had the same name.
He picked up the phone, had a chat, and instigated a plan for a drought relief road trip to the town.
That was earlier this week, and now there are two utes and a van almost stockpiled with groceries for farmers in the most dire situations.
His mate, Issac Delalande, who was also brainstorming ways he could help, jumped onboard.
The pair, and four of their mates, will make the trip to the drought-stricken town early on Saturday morning.
They are collecting groceries, dog food and prepaid gift cards. Among the items are lots of fresh fruit and vegetables – something a lot of farmers are going without.
Bring donations to the Maitland Mercury office, Level 1, Suite 2/12 Elgin Street, Maitland, by 3pm on Friday, August 3.
Some of the boxes feature heart-felt messages of support.
There’s a farmer who is driving 160 kilometres to buy square bales of hay at $28 a bale,- Mr Delalande said
“I’m happy to pick up anything that people want to donate … I’ve had one place donate $600 worth of vouchers.”
Mr Grant, the livestock agent, said farmers were very proud people and had been doing their best to survive the declining conditions.
On top of that, water resources are shrinking. The town’s water supply is critical, with only 23 per cent left in the dam.
Stories of people showering once a week to save water, and drinking juice instead of water, are becoming more common.
“Once it gets to 20 per cent they tell me they won’t be able to pump anything else out of that dam so the township itself is struggling as well,” Mr Grant said.
Even just a shower for someone lifts their day, you know yourself when you have a shower, there’s a spring in your step … It’s difficult, it’s hard, it’s sad, it’s bloody sad
“I was amazed when this guy David Grant rang me, to think that they want to do this to help … I keep thinking how can we repay them for this?”
Mr Grant will coordinate the distribution of the supplies to at least five farming families who are genuinely struggling to keep going.
So other than groceries, and water, what do these farmers need?
“They need money, a prepaid debit card, and the reason I say that is out here, even though the landholders are doing it tough so are the little towns around here.
We need to keep the local supermarket, and the paper shop and the other businesses going, and to do that we need cash flow. We need to keep the economy going in these little towns.
“A prepaid card can give landholders the opportunity to go to the tyre shop and get that tyre fixed that they have been putting off, or they can buy fuel in town to keep them going.
“Little things like that help the town and the landholder as well.”
Mr Grant said farmers were struggling to keep their cattle fed. He has had to turn back 5 loads of skinny cattle in the past 9 days because they were too weak to travel to the saleyards.
“I said [to one of them] we will work out way through this, don’t shoot them. We’ve taken all of the calves and the weaners off them, and that’s bought him a bit of hay and time so he can get them ready to sell them,” he said.
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