A PROJECT as big as rebuilding a Solomon Island school after a tsunami - that's how Pioneer Valley Rotary Club past president Ron Poulsen describes the weekend undertaking to relieve drought-stricken Longreach graziers.
Together with half the members of his club, Ron made the 18-hour round trip to work with the Longreach Rotary Club and Aussie Helpers to deliver 600 bales of hay, dog food, chook pellets, and care packages to some 60 grateful graziers.
"Seeing the appreciation on people's faces makes it all worthwhile," he said. "One lady told us that at least she'll be able to wean her cattle now."
Those were the thoughts of many. Penny Button at Crossmoor, 40km from Muttaburra, said that after a lifetime in western Queensland, this was the driest she had ever experienced.
Although every dam was dry and the property is totally destocked, she had a positive view of the future for the beef industry, and will be feeding her hay to the nine poddies still at home.
"This is very humbling - the spirit is refreshing and brings a tear," she said.
Graham Moffatt's family has been at Camoola Park north of Longreach since 1899, and he believes this drought is on a par
with the one experienced in the 1960s.
"I try and make it a habit not to feed but I want to keep a nucleus
of breeding ewes alive.
"It's the thought that's behind this, the appreciation that people
are prepared to do something for you."
Ron Poulsen said it had been planned for most of the year, when one of his members was talking to a friend in the west whose cattle were too weak to move.
This coincided with an offer from farmers in the Pioneer Valley to donate excess grass to a good cause.
"One of our members works for Ergon and drives out as far as Charleville - he sees a lot of distress out there," Ron added.
It set off a funding drive that raised over $55,000 from 26 Rotary clubs throughout Australia, including from the Blue Mountains, suffering itself after bushfires.
Longreach Rotary's Ian Housten said hosting the annual district conference in April, bringing over 200 people to the west from as far away as Hervey Bay, had given people a good idea of what people were struggling with.
"They had to drive right through it to get here," he said.
Expertise offered by Aussie Helpers was called upon to help with distribution, and the Moranbah Rotary Club helped with financial planning.
Mr Poulsen said the need for drought assistance was ongoing and he would be starting round two, to raise $130,000 when he returned home, with the aim of delivering 1500 bales to north west Queensland as well as western parts.
Another group of Pioneer Valley growers offered more of their hay.
"I've told my members they've got to keep going and they're keen."