‘Hay’ mate, we can help!

By Robert Muir

Sixteen trucks loaded with hay met up at Yarrawonga Saleyards last Wednesday and left at 5.00am in a convoy to bushfire-damaged Corryong and district. Another 14 truckloads from Yarrawonga are planned within two weeks.

The approximate 330kms journey over some four hours was organised by well-known local farmers, James Cummins and Maurie Tyrell.

“Maurie’s a local Corryong boy and many of his mates are from Corryong,” Mr Cummins, whose property is ‘Telewonga’ in Burramine, told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.

“We’ve enjoyed a reasonable season here and believe it’s our duty to help each other. What goes around comes around.

“It brings out the best and the worst in people and people are mostly the best.”

Mr Tyrell, from ‘Leigh Park’ Bundalong, said a good mate of his got burnt badly on New Year’s Eve. “The fire returned to his property on that last really hot 45 degrees day and a lot of pasture was KO’d,” he said.

“A helluva lot of people up there need hay. James (Cummins) has a huge network of people and this hay will go direct to farms, for Corryong and district.” Most importantly, Mr Tyrell’s mate is coming along well. 

The two local farmers reached out for some local financial support and were so appreciative to obtain ClubMulwala support.

“We are happy to assist our local farmers, with a donation of $5,000 to defray their costs of fuel in freighting the hay,” President Des O’Meara ESM OAM said.

Arriving around 9.00am in the Corryong town which has a population of about 1200 people, Mr Cummins emphasised that the convoy involving the 16 drivers went well despite a few breakdowns with mechanical problems.

“It went fantastically,” he said. “All the deliveries of hay got to the properties most needed – 15 really needy properties.

“You’d have to see the damage first-hand to believe it, to try and understand it,” he said. “There were tears but the people really acknowledged the generosity of us and other people.”

Yarrawonga farmer and convoy member, Kevin Keenan, related examples, last Thursday, of the hardship being experienced in Corryong.

“The first farmer I spoke to was in tears. He’s in his mid-70s, probably been on the land all his life and still can’t find his 31 young heifers,” Mr Keenan said.

“He saw these cattle wandering down the road and took them in, to look after them, until the owner was found. He lost a lot, just about everything – sheds, utes, stock, feed - except his house.

“A couple I spoke to, probably in their mid-60s, wondered if they’d have the energy to restructure and go again after losing so much.

”Another farmer I spoke to thought ‘that was it’ for him as a fireball raged on his property and he had trouble breathing with the oxygen out of the air as he was crawling along the ground.

“He was lucky enough to find a little pocket of air to breathe and fortunately his house was spared.”

Mr Cummins and Mr Keenan said that farmers weren’t playing the blame game. “These blokes aren’t blaming anyone for what’s happened – they’re just so grateful for the charity and thoughts of people,” Mr Keenan said.

“They’re just so grateful for outside help. So many had tears. They said it was just fantastic the donations they’re receiving.” 

A day after the Yarrawonga convoy, the bushfires in the Corryong area had burnt an estimated 200,000 hectares and dozens of homes.

Since the Yarrawonga convoy, our farmers have been asked about financial donations to their farmer mates in the Corryong district. Persons interested can contact James Cummins (0427 439 784) or Maurie Tyrell (0400 334 238).