Hay with heart

“It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.” That’s the guiding principle behind the small group of volunteers who are on a mission to deliver hay to farmers dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters.

Since 2019, the Aussie Hay Runners has delivered more than 30,400 bales of hay to farmers, bales donated or bought with donations worth over $2.8 million.

Using 55 trucks, Aussie Hay Runners delivered 1792 bales to Scone in January. Bushfires burnt through hundreds of hectares in NSW late last year, causing people and livestock to be evacuated. Photo (and main image): Upper Hunter Shire Council.

Aussie Hay Runners is getting set to hit the road again for its sixth run for 2024, with 25 trucks arriving at Inverell this Friday, March 1 to help bushfire impacted farmers.

To measure the impact this group has had, in 25 runs 844 trucks have travelled nearly 2 million kilometres – that’s nearly 50 laps around the planet! If you think that would mean a lot of fuel, you’d be right. The fuel bill tally is almost $4 million.

The Runners have helped 2,659 farmers to date, like the farm pictured below where a fire swept through, burning 98% of the property.

“We live at Bluff Rock, Tenterfield. We had enough feed to last us until March and we were stocked accordingly. The fire burnt 98% of our property leaving some very stoic but hungry cattle. We have been handing feeding each day since and the cows bolt with joy when they hear the tractor coming. This hay run has been a real gift from God and we thank you!” Photo: Aussie Hay Runners (Facebook).

How it all began

Aussie Hay Runners was established in 2019 when Linda Widdup from Carlisle River, country Victoria, saw a Facebook post about drought affected farmers in Dunedoo, NSW.

“Farmers were desperate, fifth generation farmers were selling their animals because they could not provide water or feed for them.”

Aussie Hay Runners founder Linda Widdup behind the wheel for another delivery.

Linda knew she had to do something to help, so she teamed up with Phillip Garrett and Tammy Cooper and Aussie Hay Runners was born.

“Now in our fifth year, with a group of dedicated volunteers and a large group of drivers, we are proudly supported by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority, Ray Akers of Gippsland Hay Relief and recently we have been made a Project by the largest Lions Club in rural Victoria, Heyfield Lions Club.”

Follow the convoy and donate via the Runners’ Facebook page.

Making life easier when rain doesn’t fall.

Stacey Davidson

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