'Hay and rain, you couldn't ask for anything more'

Burrumbuttock Hay Runners bring cheer to drought-stricken community

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HAY LOAD: Belinda Ackling from Armidale Regional Council directing trucks at the showground on Saturday ahead of the Australia Day celebration. Photo: Steven Green

HAY LOAD: Belinda Ackling from Armidale Regional Council directing trucks at the showground on Saturday ahead of the Australia Day celebration. Photo: Steven Green

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The Burrumbuttock Hay Runners left not only fodder, but rain, to the parched New England region in NSW.

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When the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners arrived in Armidale, after driving more than 900 kilometres, they brought rain as well as fodder to the parched region.

Trucks loaded with hay donated to Need for Feed Disaster Relief also made their way to fire-affected areas in Corryong and North East Victoria on Australia Day. Need for Feed's Linda Ryder said it was devastating to see the destruction in Corryong.

"Driving up this road was pretty emotional, [seeing] the houses that were burnt down, the paddocks, the machinery," she said.

Need for Feed also delivered a convoy of hay to fire-affected areas in east Gippsland.

More than 180 trucks, led by Burrumbuttock's Brendan Farrell, arrived in Armidale on Saturday afternoon in time to celebrate Australia Day in the drought-stricken area.

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale

The hay runners joined Armidale residents for a drought relief concert at the Armidale Showgrounds on Sunday, which starred Greg and Sarah Storer, Innocent Eve, Scarletts Way and Brad Jones.

Martin Northcott from Glencoe was a member of the Mt Gambier Hay Run that joined the Burrumbuttock team.

"Being farmers, we've been in the same boat many years ago, and you help a mate out when he needs it because you never know when you're going to need it yourself," he said.

Driver Jim Parrett said the experience of coming through Tamworth, Uralla and Armidale was something special.

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale.

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale.

"Some of the smaller villages were good, but Tamworth, there must have been 20,000 people lining the streets, saying thank you and waving," he said.

"It left you with a bit of lump in your throat. And then Uralla was fantastic.

"That's a small community, but they must get a lot of visitors there because I didn't think their population was that big. And then coming into Armidale was just so beautiful, I mean, people were just so appreciative and it just gladdens your heart."

Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray thought the main message was that the Australian community cared for this area.

"They're not just providing hay. They're bringing festivity, good wishes, all this to our community," he said.

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale.

Drought relief by the truckload arrives in Armidale.

The Armidale Show Society helped organise a night of entertainment for the truckers on Sunday night.

"We cater for when we put on our own events, but other than for the show where we expect the numbers, this is the biggest single event we've had to cater for, in my time as president that is," president Keslo Looker said.

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall watched as the trucks arrived on Saturday.

"It's astounding, and it looks like they've brought the rain with them too," he said.

"Hay and rain, you couldn't ask for anything more.

"It's not just the 700 farmers who are going to benefit from this hay, the sheer raw emotion from a lot of people, who are just floored at the sheer scale of the thought, the effort that goes into organising and bringing something like this here."

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