Burrumbuttock Hay Runners

By: Tamara Whitsed


More than 100 trucks have volunteered to take donated hay from southern New South Wales to Aramac, Queensland. Tamara Whitsed talks to Burrumbuttock Hay Runners founder Brendan Farrell

Burrumbuttock Hay Runners
It will be an early start for the hay runners on January 7.

 

Brendan Farrell has been talking to the Guinness Book of Records.

Apparently there is no official world record for the longest truck convoy of donated hay. But Brendan hopes to change that.

The founder of Burrumbuttock Hay Runners is organising a convoy of more than 100 prime movers to cart hay north to Aramac, Queensland, on January 7, 2016.

The hay will be distributed to drought-stricken farmers.

"I put on Facebook that I wanted 100 trucks and got that within six weeks," says Brendan, who hopes more trucks will join in.

He urges truck operators to contact him if they would like to get involved.

"If they’ve got a heart of gold and they like thinking they’re helping someone they have never met, give us a ring."

Brendan says 100 trucks could cart 5,000 big squares and rolls. If more trucks take part "we could end up with 7,000 squares".

Most of the trucks will leave from Darlington Point near Griffith, New South Wales, on Thursday, January 7, with others joining them along the way.

The world record attempt will begin at Cobar, NSW, so three-trailer road trains can be included in the count.

If everything goes to plan, the convoy will reach Aramac at about 3:30pm on Friday, January 8.

Brendan says the trucks will be spaced about 500m apart to make it easy for other vehicles to overtake, so the convoy will stretch out over about 50km.

Mechanics and auto-electricians will travel with the convoy.

Eight escort vehicles will carry relief drivers and relay UHF messages.

Brendan selected Aramac because it is central to a large drought-affected area. A ballot will determine which farmers will receive the hay.

"Some of these farmers will come 200km or 300km to get a semi load of hay. It’s the most central spot."

 

Brendan Farrell at work on his family’s Burrumbuttock property.

 

Generosity

Brendan commends the generosity of operators and drivers taking part.

"It’s all about the heart of the small independent truckies.

We don’t see many of the multinationals ever put their hand up for anything like this. If the big multinationals came on board you would move a lot more hay."

Burrumbuttock is near Albury in the Riverina, NSW.

Brendan estimates it will cost each prime-mover $2,000 in fuel to travel from Burrumbuttock to Aramac and back — it is about 1,800km each way.

The Rotary Club of Sydney is collecting public donations, which will be distributed between the participating truck companies to reimburse part of their fuel costs.

Brendan is a truck driver, farmer and hay merchant. He carts general freight, grain and hay in a 1994 Kenworth K100E.

He lives with his wife Shannon and three young children on their beef farm near Griffith.

He also helps run a family farm at Burrumbuttock.

 

Brendan is a truck driver, farmer and hay merchant.

 

"Thirty years ago farming was a lifestyle," Brendan says.

"Now it’s big business. It’s big money to put a crop in. It’s big money for cattle. Whatever you touch in agriculture, it costs big money. And you get bugger all back."

When you add a drought to the equation, farming can be heart-breaking.

"I don’t care how strong a bloke you are. I’ve seen the toughest, roughest blokes in central Queensland burst into tears with this drought. There’s a lot of pressure on."

Haymaking was in full swing when we visited Brendan at his family’s Burrumbuttock property in the Riverina — and things were not going well. This was supposed to be a wheat crop.

"Early in September we had no rain at all so it was really dying quite rapidly," Brendan says. "There was just no head formed, so we just decided to bale it."

The failed crop could have made quality wheaten hay, but they needed dry weather when they began baling it. Instead they copped heavy rain.

In the middle of a torrential storm Brendan admitted defeat and covered the bales with a tarp to make haylage which will be fed to his own stock.

It is a similar story throughout the Riverina, and Brendan wonders if this will lead to a hay shortage. But he is confident farmers will continue to donate quality hay to the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.

 

Brendan Farrell with his 1994 Kenworth K100E.

 

Drought Pain

Farmers are constantly reminded they are at the mercy of the weather and Brendan knows farmers in the dry north have much bigger problems.

"Last year I met a young boy who was four and he had never seen rain.

"I find it intriguing how you have had no rain on your property for five years but you can roll over on the bed, put your feet on the ground, get up, put your hat on and go and do exactly the same thing you did yesterday — go and check waterholes.

"You do that for 360 days of the year. That’s unbelievable."

The hay run to Aramac on January 7 will be the 10th Brendan has organised. Twenty trucks took part in the first hay run from Burrumbuttock to Bourke in February 2014.

"The largest one we’ve had so far was April last year."

It attracted 52 prime movers and 78 trailers from as far as Western Australia.

"We’ve donated so far over 16,500 big squares and rolls."

And they could have taken more hay if transport had been available.

Brendan says it has been rewarding to see the response from communities which have received hay.

"You go to a small country town and you’ve got 100 and 200 people on the side of the road waving, saying thank you.

"I get very satisfied when I know that I’ve helped the community, just to let them know that someone gives a damn.

"Australia has lost its way on how to give.

"I’m just trying to put the message out there that there are still people that want to help."

 

Three generations of Doyles — John with his son Damien and grandson Chase.

 

Aramac or bust

John and Damien Doyle of Oaklands, NSW, plan to take at least two trucks from the JA Doyle fleet to Aramac.

The father and son operate four trucks and specialise in bulk freight.

They also have a harvesting contract business and have worked in many drought-affected areas including Lightning Ridge in northern NSW.

Their concern for these communities motivated the Doyles to get involved with the first hay run to Bourke last year, and they have taken part in every run since then.

John says the farmers seemed surprised anyone "down south" was worried about them.

He hopes the massive convoy in January will draw Australia’s attention to the plight of farmers who have endured consecutive years of drought, and prompt governments to give more help.

You can help

If you are a truck operator keen to take part in the convoy, or if you want to donate quality hay, phone Brendan Farrell on 0439 322 605 or visit the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners Facebook page.

To donate money for fuel, send cheques payable to ‘The Rotary Club of Sydney Drought Appeal’ to Rotary Club of Sydney, GPO Box 1523, Sydney, NSW, 2001.

To transfer money directly to the Rotary Club’s drought appeal account, see the details on the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners Facebook page.

 

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