Posted by Bianca Heaney

After being contacted by Linda Widdup from Aussie Hay Runners seeking assistance to obtain a fuel subsidy from the NSW Government Rural Assistance for a Hay Run to support the farmers in Grafton affected by the devastating floods, Rotary Melton’s then President Dickson Heaney Dickson spent hours completing an application and was rewarded with $392,250.00 to assist with transport of the convoy just one way. Filling up with diesel at Temora on the return journey to Victoria cost us $1,940 just to top up and about $5,000 for the return trip. 

The Hay Run began early on Thursday 7 July loading up before the journey to Tarcutta. Kooringal Rotary Club fed the 50+ drivers and crew breakfast on the Friday morning and what a feast it was!  Thanks for getting up at the crack of dawn to be there.  It didn’t take long to fill up the bellies of the hungry crew.  Richard was so excited he took one of our signs as a memento: “We can’t help everyone. But everyone can help someone!”.  Leaving Tarcutta at 7.00 am we arrived in Bulahdelah at 10.30pm that night after crossing flooding plains and rivers one by one.  We experienced jagged roads and cursing drivers as we missed the turn off on the M7 to M1 in Sydney – ending up in Lane Cove.  The narrow streets did not go down well at all with Dickson (the driver).  I am surprised we are still married.  But we did it! 15.5 hours it took when we should have been in Grafton by 6pm!

We finally arrived in Grafton at 11.00am on Saturday.  Sally from “Feed for Friends” greeted us with the biggest smile. We met the farmers who brought trucks, trailers and whatever they could, to get their hay.  Their stories were hard to imagine.  The flood waters had risen to the tops of their homes.  They lost stock in the floods and most of their belongings.  However, they still had hope and were extremely grateful for the hay we delivered which was to last until spring and ensure they were not forced to sell their cattle.

On Saturday night we were guests of District 9640 at a local pub.  Everyone had a great time and didn’t want to leave when the bus arrived to take all the drivers and crew to the motel. The next morning, I had to console one gentleman who became very emotional and was so grateful for the supplies.  It’s not often you see a grown man cry, so I gave him the biggest hug.

Overall, the 31 trucks carried over 1,000 bales of hay and fodder and travelled a total of 92,000km round trip, give or take a few.  That’s more than 6 times around Australia on the M1.

Since returning home, Linda from Aussie Hay Runners has been overwhelmed with more donations and many other Rotary Clubs wanting to get on board to assist with the next hay run.

There are so many to thank: the farmers who donated hay from all over Victoria; NSW Government