A TRUCK convoy of 12-15 B-doubles loaded with donated hay, dubbed the Harvey Hay Run, will leave at dawn Friday, January 17, for bushfire ravaged southern New South Wales.
Prompted by pictures of the horrific New South Wales south coast bushfires and the plight faced by farmers and their surviving livestock there, the Harvey Hay Run came together in just two weeks.
More than 2000 bales of all sizes - rounds, export size large squares and small squares, which are vital for burned out areas where farm infrastructure and equipment to feed out hay may have been destroyed - were promised and delivered or collected.
The initial aim was to try and get enough hay donated to fill eight B-double truck.
By the time the convey is loaded this Thursday for a five-day trip east, it is expected to comprise up to 15 donated B-doubles, either driven by professional drivers giving their time or owner-driven local farm trucks.
Two borrowed tautliner trailers and prime mover driven by one of the hay run organisers, contract diesel fitter and small scale cattle producer Joe Hall of Cookernup, will be filled with donated clothing and bedding and bottled water donated by a Woolworths supermarket.
Donations to cover the expected $100,000 fuel cost for the convoy will continue to be accepted until the trucks return and can be made via a GoFundMe page or any Westpac bank.
An exceptional effort by the local community, particularly in a dry season when stock feed is in short supply and expensive - the Harvey Hay Run was the idea of Mr Hall and his horse-owning wife Belinda who has done much of the organising.
A few phone calls and the Hall's neighbours Paul Curulli and his son Phil, who run Curulli Meadow Hay, Cookernup, volunteered their property as a hay drop off point and Tom Rose, Kelly Road, Roelands, did the same.
The convey will leave from Mr Rose's property on Friday and there is a send-off function there on Thursday as the convey trucks are loaded, which contributors are invited to attend.
"Basically the whole thing came about from us seeing a lot of photos, especially from friends and people we know over there, on Facebook and seeing the fires on the news so I said to Joe we should do something," said Ms Hall last Friday.
"We put something up on our personal Facebook page and made a few phone calls," she said.
"Basically one phone call and it sort of exploded, people got wind of what we are trying to do and it just snowballed from there.
"People have been really very, very generous and the local community has got right behind us and helped organise community events like sausage sizzles to raise funds to go towards paying for fuel.
"It (paying for the convoy's fuel) is my number one priority at the moment, we're covered to get the hay there but if I can cover the fuel costs over and back for the farmers that are taking their own trucks out of donations then I will."
While some of the donated trucks and drivers will leave the convoy after dropping the hay off and go on to pick up paying backloads for their return trip to WA, the farm trucks would be coming back empty, so the aim was pay for their return fuel too if possible, Ms Hall said.
She will leave their 17-month-old daughter Grace with grandparents and accompany the convoy as pilot, driving her husband's work ute out in front.
The convoy will head for Cooma on the edge of the Snowy Mountains where the round bales and export squares will be dropped off for an existing South Coast rural relief group to disperse the hay to bushfire-affected farmers throughout the various South Coast fire regions.
The small squares and most of the donated clothing and bedding will go on to a relief centre in Narooma on the South Coast.
Many of the fire-affected properties in the coastal hinterland are hobby farms or small operations which will find the small squares easier to hand feed out to stock.
"Some of the smaller dairy farms and the other producers, even if they've not been directly impacted by the fires, are having difficulty sourcing stock feed," Ms Hall said.
"There wasn't a lot about to start with over there because of the drought and now most of what there was has been burnt so we can help them too," she said.
The Harvey Hay Run will also carry 2000 giant postcards from WA to NSW signed by people who have contributed and the lead truck will carry a banner created by and artist friend of the Hall family.
To donate money to the Harvey Hay Run see the Harvey Hay Run GoFundMe page or donations can be made via any Westpac bank, quoting BSB 036122 and account 680395 with Harvey Hay Run as the account name.
For details contact Belinda Hall, 0418 787 902.
For more on this story see Thursday's Farm Weekly.