Mates helping rural mates
WHEN he makes the call the response is always the same: “I reckon my neighbour is worse off; he could use a hand”.
But Harley West knows farmers, and he is persistent.
“The whole point of a volunteer program is to get the job done so landholders can get back to farming,” Mr West said.
He is talking about the Basin Flood Recovery project, which kicked off in Stanthorpe on Monday as part of a movement to offer practical help to rural Queenslanders starting the repair process.
Overseen by the Queensland Murray Darling Committee, the project includes volunteers from Landcare, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Victoria’s BlazeAid.
In Stanthorpe yesterday, the three crews in action included a mix of university students, retired landholders and several Victorians keen to repay the debt they felt they owed northerners after Black Saturday.
“It really is about mates helping mates, it’s the Australian way,” Mr West said.
The Ballandean local is the official co-ordinator of the Stanthorpe camp, the second one to be established in Queensland as part of the project.
At the end of day two, Mr West had been overseeing fencing repairs, the clearing of flood debris and some on-farm track rebuilding as well as making sure volunteers were “fed and watered”.
“Just seeing the gratitude on farmers’ faces makes it all worthwhile,” Mr West said.
QMDC chief executive officer Geoff Penton said the project had kicked off in response to one of the country’s worst natural disasters.
“The Basin Flood Recovery volunteer crews started work this week, helping farmers on the Darling Downs, but this effort will extend further into the Basin as more volunteers arrive, waters recede and access to impacted areas improves,” Mr Penton said.
He said rural land managers across the region faced a mammoth repair task with the loss of essential infrastructure, including farm fences.
“We have contacted 500 landholders already and about 150 have accepted offers of hands-on help, while we have helped others access different forms of assistance,” Mr Penton said.
“Any landholders who need on-farm help can contact us.”
Landholders in the Stanthorpe region can contact Harley West 0427 500 192 or in the Warwick/Allora region Condamine Headwaters Landcare Group on 4661 9909.
Anyone keen to volunteer can contact QMDC on 4637 6200 or 0418 171 366 or www.qmdc.org.au.