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Hay convoy bound for Bourke arrival, after impromptu stop-over at Broken Hill in far-west NSW

Gavin Coote, Friday April 4, 2014 - 11:28 EDT
ABC image
The Hay from WA crew were forced to make last-minute plans for a rest at Broken Hill due to wet weather. They were transported in a bus from just outside the city to a local pub for a meal and drinks. - ABC

Almost 1,000 hay bales will arrive in drought-stricken Bourke in north-west New South Wales today, after making an impromptu stop at Broken Hill overnight.

It's one of the biggest hay donations in history and 16 road trains are on the final leg of a trip from Esperance in Western Australia as part of the 'Hay from WA' initiative.

Wet weather and a small hiccup in Peterborough in South Australia caused delays for the convoy yesterday and they were forced to make last-minute plans for a rest in Broken Hill.

But one of the organisers, Sam Starcevich, says it hasn't dampened spirits and they're still on track for an arrival in Bourke this afternoon.

"We had a few bales come loose so we pulled up in the main street [of Peterborough] and stopped traffic," she said.

"We ran into a local shop and fixed it so it all came out good, it just held us up a little bit."

The crew planned to stay overnight at Little Topar Roadhouse, 80km east of Broken Hill, but because of the delay they arranged to set up camp just outside Broken Hill.

Ms Starcevich says some people organised accomodation at a local caravan park.

"It's all worked out and we're sitting at the tavern having dinner and a bus to ferry the guys around so it's all come together," she said.

13-year-old preparing showbags for children in dry conditions

The youngest convoy member, 13-year-old Amelia Stone's raised $5,000 to make showbags for children of the families who'll receive hay.

For her family drought's a familiar experience, as two bad frosts and a drought forced them off their land at Esperance.

But Amelia says her family's motivated to make conditions easier to deal with for farmers in the Bourke region.

"We saw it on Facebook first, and Dad thought he wanted to get involved," she said.

"We'd been through some tough times ourselves and we wanted to give back to other people so they don't have to go through as tough times as well.

"My plan is to hand the showbags out to the kids of the families that get the hay."

Amelia says she's done fundraising activities at her school, but she's excited to be involved in charity efforts on a national scale.

"We've done just normal school fundraisers like free dress stuff but nothing like this before," she said.

"One day I decided I wanted to help the kids in [the Bourke region] so I set up a Facebook page asking for donations.

"I wrote to each of the schools in Esperance saying 'could you do a free dress day?' and from there it grew a lot bigger."

Working holiday for several truck drivers

Brain Robbins is one of the truck drivers and is also from Esperance.

He says he sees the trip as a working holiday, all the while providing help for drought-affect farmers in New South Wales.

"I was approached to do the charity work and do the good deeds," he said.

"I thought it'd be a good opportunity to see the other side of Australia and help out another Aussie.

"We're fortunate over in WA, we're doing well for ourselves, not so well on this side of things but hopefully things will turn around for everyone."

The road trains left Broken Hill around 6 o'clock this morning and is expected to arrive in Bourke, via Cobar, later today.


© ABC 2014

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