The aptly named Sunrise branch of the Country Women's Association at Inverell recently hosted a high tea with added help for 60 farming women in northern NSW, which is going through arguable its worst recorded drought.
Locals came together and donated funding for four holidays which were given away at the high tea, which was hosted at Freckles cafe, run by Jenny Thomas.
Ms Thomas had three goals she wanted to achieve by bringing farmers together. One was obviously to offer a few a well-deserved break from the dreary drought. Another was an uplifting event.
Her third goal was to get people to unburden themselves of the mental stresses of drought, and to help share it with the rest of the community, so they have a better understanding of what farmers are going through.
"It was my suggestion to have a high tea at the cafe, to have a free afternoon of really nice food and drinks and have an afternoon off," Ms Thomas said.
"As part of that I wanted to know myself what had been the biggest impact of the drought."
Ms Thomas got the women at the high tea, who ranged from 25 to 90 years old, to answer in writing, this question: What has been the biggest impact on you and your family during the drought?
The anonymous responses left a remarkable impression on the federal politicians who visited Ms Thomas in September as part of a listening tour of NSW and Queensland.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg read this reflection on the effects of drought:
"Losing time. Time to do what we used to do before carting and feed and water took over. We used to enjoy riding our horses, and going places. Now we don't go anywhere. As soon as we do a cow will get stuck in the mud that used to be a dam. Children work hard to help us instead of homework or downtime. Time would have to be the biggest impact."
Another message read:
"We need all hands on deck. Stress is very high. We are trying to make the right decision to sell or keep stock."
"Hopeless watching soil and pastures die and blow away. Days of silence. Thank you for today."
Ms Thomas said a consistent theme among the letters was people who had postponed their imminent retirement due to the financial stresses of drought.
"Now they're thinking they won't retire at all, or all their resources being spent on survival," she said.