WHILE it may not have been the longest or most anticipated hay run from the Burrumbuttock crew, this year’s trip to Cunnamulla on the Australia Day long weekend was undoubtedly their most influential.
More than 100 trucks travelled from Darlington Point on Friday morning to the drought stricken south west town to deliver hay to farmers who had applied for assistance.
Unlike previous hay runs where the majority of producers travel to a central collection point to get their hay, this time almost all of the trucks, rather than a few, left the showgrounds on Saturday morning for personal deliveries.
One of those personal deliveries was to Mac and Mary Haig of Eulo.
Burrumbuttock Hay Runners founder Brendan Farrell said trucks drove as far as 50 to 230 kilometres.
“They wanted to see the full experience and get the feel of how bad this drought is so the best way we could do it is to send them out,” he said.
“They all came back yesterday afternoon and they all had stories to tell of how bad it is and where they went and they’ve built that mateship, they have gone out there and shook the farmers hand.”
A strong dust storm greeted the Hay Runners on Friday night but a few millimetres of rain gifted them as they departed on the weekend.
Among the drivers was possibly the youngest hay runner ever, eight-month-old Ardon Lidgard who made the trek with parents Joel Lidgard and Leah Byrne from near Sydney.
While he slept for two and a half hours during the drive, little Ardon was wide awake watching the hay runners mingle on Friday night.
Mr Lidgard said it was his fourth hay run after he wanted to give back to the industry that supports his business.
He said it was a chance for truck drivers to catch up as well.
”You meet blokes like … he only lives 150km away from us but we only ever see him on the hay runs or we pass him on the highway so you get to catch up with those blokes that you are usually too busy to catch up with,” he said.
For other hay runners, it wasn’t just spending time with family and friends that they were missing.
Leeton driver Buster Ryan was awarded the Citizen of the Year at his local Australia Day service but decided to continue with his hay run plans rather than accept the award in person.
The award recognised Mr Ryan’s countless volunteering work over the last 30 years including everything from chopping wood for pensioners to the hay runs.
“I just enjoy the experience of coming up here and talking one on one with the farmers,” he said.