A young girl stands on the side of the dusty road in a small town in rural Australia, holding a homemade sign that reads ‘thank you’. She smiles and waves to the 146 trucks that drive on through, towing 212 trailers, stacked with hay.
The trucks have come from across Australia; travelling over 1800 kilometres from Burrumbuttock in New South Wales, to Muttaburra in Queensland.
Sue Parker and Buster Ryan are just two of the hundreds of generous volunteers who are part of the Burrumbuttock Hay Run, delivering more than 5000 bales of hay to drought-stricken farmers in need.
Sue said the journey in the Mack Superliner supplied by Wagga Trucks was an awesome experience – inspiring and heartwarming but at the same time, heartbreaking.
“When the farmers are standing right there in front of you and they’re telling you their story face-to-face…” said Sue.
“One farmer said after he received this load of hay he didn’t know which way he was going to turn. It’s a daily struggle for them.”
Buster and Sue both grew up on the land and have been involved in the Run for the past two years.
It’s a cause that’s also close to the heart of Wagga Trucks Director Matthew Shaw.
“As a family with a farming history of over 100 years, we value farmers as the backbone of Australia. We were involved last year too. It’s in our heart, with half of our business being agriculture-related.”
Matt takes his hat off to the organisers of the Burrumbuttock Hay Run for binding together communities and the agricultural part of Australia, so when the opportunity came to lend Buster and Sue a truck it was a no-brainer.
“The timing of the new Mack dealership here and putting on a demo truck − everything aligned. The Mack was a good truck for that application, going through the country it was going to.”
Sue said it was a two-and-a-half day drive from the muster point.
“Everyone camped the night so we were all in the convoy on 23rd February. We travelled through all the little towns on the way… with people standing out on the street waving. That really tugs at the heart strings.”
But more than anything else, Sue said it was meeting the farmers that really put it all into perspective.
“We arrived at the racecourse on the Saturday morning and on the Sunday the farmers came in to get their allocated lots of hay. A lot of the farmers came in to see the trucks arrive on the Saturday.”
“At the time of unloading, everyone that was around jumped in and helped… you know… undid straps and took tarps off trailers. We were all there for the same reason. True mateship, it was,” said Sue.
“It simplifies life… to see how other people struggle on a daily basis. It’s a way of bringing everyone together. We just want the farmers to know they are not forgotten. We did have a few farmers say they really appreciate the hay but the moral support they receive from this run is phenomenal.”
Matt agreed, saying that it’s one thing to hear the stories, but it’s all very real and horribly common.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re living in Toowoomba or whether you’re living out at far outskirts at Bourke. It’s not just about hay for cattle, it’s about reassurance. And there is unity in reassurance.”
Matt can’t thank Sue and Buster enough for taking on the task and giving Wagga Trucks the opportunity to be involved.
“We might have a big shiny Mack that everyone recognises but there is a lot more to it. It’s the Lions Club, it’s the hay, the trailer. It’s one thing to donate a truck, its another thing to donate a week’s labour and the organisation to go with it.”
Sue and Buster hope to be making the run for years to come and it’s clear Matt and Wagga Trucks feel the same.
“In the grand scheme of things, farmers are getting hay that might buy them a few weeks. The real impact is more that someone has got your back. Someone is looking out for you. Don’t drop your bat and ball because there is no rain. It’ll all turn around and come good and we’ll be here in the meantime,” said Matt.