Hay Run relief for Gascoyne and Murchison

Elise Van Aken & Shannon VerhagenMidwest Times
Drivers Evan Warburton, Shane Ashton and Darren Beard.
Camera IconDrivers Evan Warburton, Shane Ashton and Darren Beard. Credit: Rosie Henderson

Drought-stricken Murchison and Gascoyne producers rejoiced this week as they were met with bales of donations from their southern farming cousins.

A group of WA truckies hit the road from Esperance on Sunday to cart tonnes of hay to farmers needing it most thanks to the charity Farmers Across Borders, arriving on Monday and Tuesday in Yalgoo, Mount Magnet, Meekatharra, Murchison and Gascoyne Junction.

Pastoralist from Braemore Station Wayne Taylor said it had been “another extremely tough year”, and they were struggling to make any income from the station.

“It would be nice to get some rain, the feed donated will save us a lot of effort and allows us to feed our cattle,” he said.

The convoy — which this year has 15 trucks but at its biggest had almost 50 — has become an icon of the region and symbolic of the Aussie spirit threaded throughout WA’s regional communities.

For the first time, they will also be carting to pastoralists in Carnarvon, some of which are battling drought but now others who — after last week’s once-in-a-decade downpour — are counting the cost of flood damage.

The 2021 hay run.
Camera IconThe 2021 hay run. Credit: Offshoot Content

It will make it their biggest run yet, geographically, spanning more than 1200km both north-south and east-west.

However they will not be able to get there for a number of weeks with what is estimated to be millions of damage to the horticultural hub’s road network.

The past few years have been trying for rangelands pastoralists, with ongoing drought forcing many to destock down to their breeders as dam floors crack dry in the beating sun.

According to the Bureau of Metrology, over the past 12 months most of the Murchison and Gascoyne has experienced average or below average rainfall, with Carnarvon seeing close to its lowest on record, including measurements taken from the recent deluge.

Farmers Across Borders president Sam Starcevich said many people didn’t realise how much of the state is desperate for rain”.

“There’s a few (farmers that have applied) in previous years and that just shows the continuing drought,” president Sam Starcevich said.

“Droughts not really recognised in WA and pastoralists have been really going through it for at least the last four years, and the price of hay has been difficult for them as well.”

Behind the wheel are truck drivers from Esperance and Cunderdin to Wandering and Perth, towing a mammoth 1280 bales of hay and straw, donated by majority Esperance farmers, behind them.

Farmers Across Borders is entirely volunteer-run and are also still looking for ongoing sponsorship for 2021, which goes towards fuelling all trucks that deliver the hay.

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