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Burrumbuttock Hay Runners - Brad and Greg Morton

25 Apr 2016 10:08 AM - Article written by RSP journalist, Charlotte Thomson
258 Trucks
1 500 Miles
5 Days

13 500 Bales of hay.....

All in one convoy to help out the drought stricken farmers of Queensland

This is the growing group of truckies called the ‘Burrumbuttock Hay Runners’ who have just returned from Ilfracombe, QLD donating hay and other goods to those in need. Two farmers from Temora, NSW, Brad and Greg Morton of ‘Balcraggon’ have been donating their time, trucks and hay for 2 years. They say they do it because they know Queenslanders would do the same for us.


Brad: “We have surplus fodder down here that we probably could sell or that we don’t need. This is altogether our fifth run now.”

Their first load of Hay back in 2014 went to Bourke on another truck. The last three trips they’ve taken their own truck. The most recent trip to Ilfracombe is the furthest they’ve been.

Brad: “We took two trucks up this time one from Wagga plus our own. This is the first one I’ve been on but Greg’s been on 5.”

Greg: “Brendan Farrell from Burrumbuttock is the organizer of it all – he started it in 2014. He takes his own truck and brings all the hay to his farm. In the week leading up to the hay run, road trains will come to his place and pick it up.”


Brad and Greg left Temora on a Wednesday afternoon and caught up with the convoy along the way. By Friday evening the convoy was in Ilfracombe unloading.


Brad: “We got there on the Friday, and it took us until 5 or 6 o clock at night on the Saturday to finish. They put on a few beers and barbeques on for us both nights.” 

Greg: “When we got there, it took us five hours just to move off the highway into the racecourse where we were unloading. We were the last truck to unload so it was slow going but there were guys just coming up and down the lines handing out beers.”

Brad and Greg say the encouragement they received along the way is a great feeling.


Brad: “Heaps of kids and families off the stations would line the road, you’d be driving out through the middle of nowhere and they’d be there with signs waving and cheering us on. We’d drive through the towns and the shops would shut down. Everyone would be out on the streets waving to us as we drove through.”


Greg: “Everyone, all the old grey nomads and truck drivers we would pass along the way would give us a shout out on the radio, thanking us for what we were doing. You’re treated like Kings when you do it.”


Greg: “They’re all very grateful for what we were doing, the farmers we met were of an older generation. The average age of the farmers would be 50-60 years of age. The younger generation has sort of died off up there, probably because of the drought, they’ve had to find work elsewhere. Although, there were some young jackaroos and jillaroos.”


Despite some rainfall earlier in the year, Brad and Greg say it doesn’t show across the landscape.


Greg: “It’s in patches really, you do a hundred kilometer stretch and it’d be nice and green and then it just turns to shit really. You can see why they’re doing it tough. They haven’t had any rain since 2012 up there in Ilfracombe, then they had 6 inches in January. Though if we had 6 inches down where we are we’d have a lot of feed but up there now even after the rain there’s absolutely nothing. Everything’s dying.”


Even the wildlife is dying.


Greg: “There was a heap of road kill. Not many live ones.”


Brad: “We did see some roos here and there but not many between Cobar and Ilfracombe. We didn’t even see any stock or anything. The people that did have stock, had them in thousand acre paddocks near the house so they wouldn’t have to go far to feed and water them.”


Greg: “Oh yeah stock numbers are massively reduced, the farmers we were talking to would normally have 3 or 4 hundred head of breeding cattle but they were down to 25-30 head and talking about getting rid of them pretty soon because there hasn’t been anymore rain. It wasn’t economical to keep feeding them. That’s their only income, their stock, they can’t grow any crops up there.”


Brad says some have just given up but most are still hanging on despite the lack of rain.


Brad: “They’re still in good spirits, you wouldn’t even know they’re in drought. Some are probably happier than some of the farmers down where we are! They know they can’t change the circumstances and they’ve just been battling on.”


It’s not even just hay that’s being donated either.


Brad: “There was one couple, from near Sydney, they donated a triple-road train worth of fruit and veggies. There were a couple of ladies from the Gold Coast who donated a lot of beauty packs for farmer’s wives. There was also a hairdresser from the Gold Coast too setting up a hair salon for free hair-cuts. Even a Doctor, who was giving free check ups for people. It’s all donated time for them.”


The amount of people donating time and money into the cause is growing and Brad and Greg reckon it’s time for the Government to help out more.


Brad: “It would good if the Government could get behind us a bit more. Pauline Hanson was up there with us on the last time. She tried to ring Malcolm Turnbull when we were up there, left a message on his phone but he never got back to her. I know they care but they don’t do enough to help us out. We’re producing food for everyone to eat, they donate money overseas all the time, yet they can’t help out their own farmers in need.”


Despite all this, they’re already planning to join the next trip at the start of July.


Brad: “We’re heading to Thargomindah just over the border. We’re trying to organise a fairly decent one up there. We were there with Brendan Farrell from the start in 2014 when there were only fifteen trucks in the convoy. Now, whenever you talk to a truckie they say they want to get involved in the next trip. There’s always a heap more trucks coming in.”