Mount Gambier Hay Run assists SA communities

The South Australian communities of Lucindale and Avenue Range have received more than 3,000 bales of hay in the immediate aftermath of fires that devastated the regions last week.

Mount Gambier Hay Run organiser, Adam Smith, said he was lost for words with the incredible response in just three days from transport companies and truck drivers wanting to assist those in need.

Smith said previous Hay Runs which he helped organise from Mount Gambier to Keilira and Kangaroo Island last year took at least a week to pull together.

“Everyone has just jumped on board, I’ve had no sleep but it doesn’t matter when you get here and see this,” said Smith – adding that he was motivated to assist SA farmers in need as they were always there for the country supplying food.

“No offence to city people, but milk is not from a carton at Coles, this is where it starts,” he said.

“If we don’t have these cattle and sheep farmers that have been affected, we have nothing.”

Horsham farmer Sam McGennisken, who was among a convoy of 12 trucks from Victoria’s Wimmera region, said when he was contacted by Smith his instant response was: ‘How many trucks do you want and where are we going?’.

“We’ve been in trouble before and needed help and really appreciated it when we have got it,” said McGennisken.

“When people are down we want to help them get back on their feet and get them going as quick as we can.”

The affected communities endured a hellish week with the Blackford blaze leaving a more than 14,000-hectare scar on the landscape and inflicting high livestock and infrastructure losses.

But just a few days later, one of the state’s largest ever hay runs rolled into town carrying more than 3,000 bales of donated hay.

The convoy of nearly 70 trucks, plus a few utes and trailers, came from as far afield as the Eyre Peninsula and the Wimmera district in Victoria.

The truck drivers who volunteered their time were greeted by cheers and ‘thank you’ signs from locals who lined the main street.

The trucks filed through town to Yakka Park, the South East Field Days site on the western side of Lucindale, which has become the fodder depot for the fire recovery.

From there the hay was unloaded by Lucindale Lions Club members and other local volunteers – many of whom had already had a big week fighting the blaze and mopping up afterwards.

Lucindale Lions Club Hay Run coordinator, Peter Corrigan, said it was an amazing sight seeing the trucks drive into Yakka Park.

“It is a lifter, you just have a bit more faith after what we have experienced,” said Corrigan.

He said the Lions Club had been quiet with the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 South East Field Days due to COVID-19, so taking on the project of the fodder depot would also give its members a strong purpose for which to come together.

“Since Ash Wednesday (1983) we have really dodged a bullet up until the Keilira fires last year,” he said. “We’ve had some great seasons and some great feed, so it was inevitable that one day this would happen.”