I have driven a well-worn path up and down the golden highway for more years than I care to admit. Having moved from Dubbo to Newcastle 20 years ago, there have been hundreds of trips back and forth to see friends and family.
The stereo is always on high volume. Although I now share playlist input with the kid.
Thankful she has the same eclectic taste in music that I do, but there is, if I'm honest, a lot more Taylor Swift inclusions than there used to be.
One of the artists I work with was invited to Dubbo to help raise money for the farmers. Shannon Noll, being a country boy himself, jumped at the opportunity to help, so The kid and I decided it was a good excuse to head from our coastal home out to the Central West accompanied by a soundtrack loop of
The Greatest Showman and Mama Mia for a substantial chunk of the drive! This time of year, there would normally be crops waist-high and the fields full of colour, but the landscape for as far as you
could see is barren and dusty.
The ever-present reminder that there is no feed in the fields is the high volume of dead wildlife
just off the side of the road.
I know the news is currently full of drought relief stories, and it’s great that everyone is now aware and doing what they can to help. But it’s not like this an issue that just presented itself this month.
Why is it that farmers have to be on their knees before anyone takes notice?
As I write this the government are currently playing some twisted game of musical chairs hoping to decide who is in charge.
You have to wonder if they are aware that there are actual issues people have elected them to solve. Long-term solutions that could have been put in place have been missed over shiny quick-fix solutions that make the headlines.
Just as we pulled up in town, there were 3 or 4 drops of rain. Not even enough to get my windscreen wet. We called into the shops to grab a quick bite to eat. Just ahead of us in line, there was a gentleman who commented about those three drops of rain with a smile and said to the girl behind the counter “well it looks like the drought might be over.”
The woman next to me and I rolled our eyes and shot each other a look that clearly meant “is this guy an idiot; he’s obviously from the city”.
The Today Show broadcast was sensational, and Shannon joined lots of other artists and actors including Roger Corser and Wendy Matthews.
Thanks to the generosity of the average Aussie, they raised over 8 million dollars, which will go a long
way to support the farmers. Shannon released a song called Lean on Me, which you can buy on iTunes, and all the funds will go to Drought Angels.
Farmers are a tough breed and will not put their hand up for help. There is this lovely line in a news clip
of Natasha Johnston, who runs Drought Angels where she says “it’s not a handout, it’s a thank you”.
Part of the issue which is hard for people who aren’t from the country to get their head around is that this will now be a long-term problem.
If no crops are growing now, there will be no Hay next year. We are currently experiencing the worst drought of our lifetime.
There is so much pressure on these very tough families when nature is working against them. In Shannon’s case, the farm had been in the family for 98 years.
You don’t want to be the one to lose it. The toll it would take on your mental health is enormous. Particularly when there is no end in sight.
There are some sensational registered charities you can give to, but it’s also about changing your buying habits. I called in at a Harris Farm Markets on the drive home from Dubbo, and there are signs above all their produce that say where they were grown.
They do all the work for you; you just have to make a choice to support Australian farmers.