More than 60 heavy vehicles transporting 2144 bales of premium hay arrived in Grafton and Ulmarra on January 26 after completing an incredible 98860km journey from regional Victoria to the Clarence Valley.
It was the third time the Aussie Hay Runners had returned to the region in support of local hobby farmers and primary producers, many of whom were impacted by the devastating bushfires which burned throughout the area in October 2023.
Speaking with the Clarence Valley Independent earlier this week, Linda Widdup, who founded Aussie Hay Runners in 2019, said as soon as she saw the damage and destruction caused by the bushfires last year, she knew she had to organise a convoy and head north.
“Our farmers, they are the salt and pepper of the earth,” she said.
“Without them, we don’t have food on our plates, it’s that simple.
“Mother Nature has been very poor over the last few years to a lot of farmers (in the Clarence Valley), and we wanted to do everything we could to help them get back on their feet.
“So, we loaded up the trucks and hit the road.”
The premium hay bales, valued at over $200000, were generously donated by Victorian farmers.
Over the weekend, they were distributed amongst more than 120 Clarence Valley primary producers and hobby farmers who shared their gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to the Aussie Hay Runners.
Organised in partnership between the NSW Rural Assistance Authority, Scott Stevens and the Heyfield Lions Club, Ray Akers of Gippsland Hay Relief, and Clarence Valley Councillor Debrah Novak, who volunteered countless hours alongside other community groups and representatives to unload and distribute bales of hay to those in need, the Aussie Hay Runners convoy also consisted of more than 50 truck drivers who generously donated their time and heavy vehicles to participate in the latest venture.
Among them were two drivers aged in their 80s, who completed the journey in non-air-conditioned cabs.
“They had the windows wound down most of the time they were on the road to keep themselves cool, but they wouldn’t have missed being a part of the journey,” Ms Widdup said.
While Ms Widdup also extended her appreciation to the Clarence Valley community for their hospitality over the weekend, she confirmed the Aussie Hay Runners are currently organising another convoy to arrive in the Clarence Valley in mid-April.
The Clarence Valley Independent will notify our readers as soon as further information becomes available.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 31 January 2024.