The Burrumbuttock Hay Runners have become a national institution over the years of drought afflicting parts of Queensland and NSW, and they are about to emphasise that with an Australia Day run to Quilpie.
According to organiser Brendan Farrell, a little under 200 trucks and their drivers, from all round Australia, have signed up to make the generous pilgrimage to one of Queensland’s most affected regions.
Ironically the Quilpie shire, along with the Boulia shire, was deemed ineligible for federal government funding help for a time in 2015, thanks to bureaucratic criteria.
While the Runners’ first big appearance in Queensland was in early January 2016, they aligned with the patriotism of Australia Day when more than 100 trucks made the big hay lift to Cunnamulla.
Plans are similar this year – trucks will depart the NSW Darlington Point Sports Club at 6am on Thursday, January 24, making Cunnamulla their overnight stop.
They anticipate arriving in Quilpie at lunch time on Friday, where scenic tours and visits to some of the region’s attractions are on the cards.
Saturday, January 26 is ballot form day, when trucks will be sent out to producers in need around Quilpie, Thargomindah and Eulo.
The conclusion will be a concert in Quilpie on Saturday night.
According to a message from Brendan on the group’s Facebook page, hay depots in South Australia, Horsham, Echuca and Burrumbuttock are filling and they haven’t quite hit the 200-truck mark yet, but more are coming on board.
“We’re still raising money for fuel – the more we have the more farmers we can help,” he said.
“We have to try and make sure these farmers know they’re not forgotten. I think about them every day as I’m cutting hay and raking hay.
“Quilpie’s got a lot going for it, the scenery, the sunsets and gorges.
“I’m going out there and I want to see 500 of my good mates put one hell of a good show on the road again.
“It’s the Australia Day weekend, you couldn’t think of a better weekend to do it.”