On January 24th, 2020, our team over 60 volunteers embarked on-a journey to deliver 2000 tonnes of feed, divided amongst 60 stations in the Gascoyne and Murchison area of WA. The Run itself took a selfless committee hundreds of hours of logistical work, and intense organisation, cutting off the hay to put it all together and make it to Meekatharra. Hours of work was put in by Inaya Stone, Co-Secretary who logistically organised all the drop-offs and communication with each station and the feed that would be delivered together with tireless Ross Stone who oversaw cut and baled hay. Sam Starcevich, President, organised the team assisted by  Christiane Smith who managed all other admin, including relationships with sponsors(including Jeep) and their support vehicles. The rest of the committee did their part too, organising drivers, donations-and merchandise.  A special thanks should go to Gill Inkster for getting the care packages together.

The Australia Day hay run has become a tradition of compassion and true-blue Aussie spirit. We as rural Western Australians, have always been strong enough to keep on keeping on, no matter how many hardships we face. We often are so determined & dogmatic; we forget to ask for help. Farmers Across Borders knew that it was time to lend a hand with most of the region receiving less than 25 millimetres of rainfall over the last 12 months.

“Thank you is the only word I can use to describe such generosity.” – Greg Watters, owner of Mt Clere Station

The Run started at 6-mile hill in Esperance as the crew gathered along with the general public who came out to see the trucks leaving. Proper Flash was leading the way with all 20 trucks following eagerly. It was an emotional sight to see, realising the enormity of the journey and the faith the people at the other end had, in seeing us arriving, was humbling. There was a huge amount of public support on the morning, including the police force who shut the road to allow all of the trucks a safe and smooth exit out of Esperance. People were waving excitedly as trucks were honking their horns as they crept up the hill, into the distance and on towards Grass Patch.

“And to see the people lining the roads, cheering and waving as we drove in just shows how thankful these people are.” – Inaya Stone, Co-secretary Farmers Across Borders.  

The 20 truck drivers who took part in the Australia Day Run came from all around the state including Esperance, Walpole and Cunderdin and everywhere in between. Lead by Ross Stone, Head Driver and Vice President of Farmers Across Borders k the team were kept on track to arrive into Leonora for night one, by 5 PM. Along the way it was significantly getting dryer, as well as hotter. That didn’t stop the crowds, along the way from Coolgardie, Leonora, Meekatharra and everywhere in between.

“The response you get from pastoralists is pretty overwhelming when we drop the hay off to the stations, to see a bit of a smile in their face and hope in their eyes is what it’s all about.” – Ross Stone, Vice President of Farmers Across Borders. 

Arrival into Leonora was a relief as it had been a long and emotional 12-hour day from Esperance. It was delightful to be greeted by the Leonora shire at the local sporting oval along with the drinks they had put on to say thank you. Wherever we were there was that spirit of community around us when we travelled. It was a great sight. Even when we went to check-in at the local pub, we got a bright and entertaining welcome from the locals.

“We realised how tough they are doing it and supporting their mental wellbeing is another reason we wanted to do it. If we can rock up with a few bales of hay to keep stock and farmers alive, it is a good feeling, and it’s important.” – Rocket, Farmers Across Borders Committee Member and Truck Driver. 

After a great night sleep in Leonora, it was time to wake and head back to the local sporting club for breakfast, again thanks to Jeep for catering! After a plan of attack for day 2 to get to Meekatharra and a group photo, we were off again by 8.15 AM embarking on a longer than expected day (we will get to that). It was all smooth sailing for the first part of the day, the team were making good time until 1.30 PM when an unexpected breakdown from a truck took longer than expected – with an original ETA of 3 PM to Meekatharra, travelling with 20 trucks and the breakdown meant that we didn’t arrive until after 6 PM.

“Some people are saying this hay is not going to help us much at all … but it does help us. It gives us another couple of months of reprieve and the biggest fact is that people are helping us, which really puts us in front.” – Greg Watters, owner of Mt Clere Station

It was a sight to see when the trucks pulled into Sherwood station, 5 KM North of Meekatharra. More than 50 pastoralists from around the region joined us in celebration of the arrival. It was a great opportunity for all of the community to come together and have something to celebrate. They were also in force with the Green Shirt movement recognising the need for more awareness from the government around issues happening in the Agricultural industry. The evening was made possible with help from Dust off Depression lead by Zoe Hayes.

“I have to hold back my tears, it’s been brutal out here. There has been days out here that are too graphic to explain and even though it’s not my cattle, it is still really heartbreaking to see the animals in the state they are due to the lack of rain.” – Zoe Hayes, Dust off Depression. 

With a local live band and a gourmet BBQ, it was an excellent finish to a big couple of days. We are so thankful to everyone who supported the Run including Jeep, Ascend Films, Dust of Depression, MR & HL Wandel, Country Trucker Caps, DKT Rural Agencies, Claas Harvest Centre along with Busy Blue Bus, Esperance Rural Supplies, Farm & General and Wayward Nation. As we plan for the next few months, we are always looking for more donations and sponsors to get behind our charity. Each Run is a completely humbling experience. We are so grateful to be able to continue to help those who need it most.




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