Nambucca Rotary beer, wine, food festival helps drought relief effort in Coonabarabran

While the recent rain has helped boost morale and the spirits of farming communities living in drought-affected areas, the need for help continues.

With support from clubs like Nambucca Heads Rotary, Coonabarabran Rotary Club has distributed a total of $103,000 as part of a Drought Relief Fund set up to help those who need it most.

The top photos were taken at Coonabarabran in state's central west in October 2016. Pictured below them is the same paddock in recent months. This was the last harvest for hay making experienced in the area. With no harvest again this year, stock will need to be fed well into 2019. Photos courtesy of Coonabarabran Rotary Club.

The top photos were taken at Coonabarabran in state's central west in October 2016. Pictured below them is the same paddock in recent months. This was the last harvest for hay making experienced in the area. With no harvest again this year, stock will need to be fed well into 2019. Photos courtesy of Coonabarabran Rotary Club.

In a recent letter of thanks to Nambucca Rotary, Coonabarabran Rotary President Jo Wilkin said despite recent rain, it’s estimated to take another 18 months before the community can expect a recovery.

“It [the rain] has been variable with some farms receiving useful falls and some all but missing out. At least it has indicated a change in the weather pattern," Mrs Wilkin said.

Nambucca Heads Rotary, with the help of the Nambucca Valley raised $3,300 for the fund following their beer, wine and food fair held earlier this year on August 25 at Nambucca Island Club Golf and supported by Ritchies IGA. Their contribution helped develop the Rotary Drought Relief Program, which supports farming communities in Coonabarabran, Gunnedah and Narrabri.

“Thank you so much for your support for this farming community,” Mrs Wilkin said in her thank you letter to Nambucca Rotary.

“You have certainly ‘done your bit’, and we are very grateful! We look forward to continuing whatever we can do to keep farms and the town businesses viable until the season breaks completely.”

About the Rotary Drought Relief Program 

Mrs Wilkin said the Rotary Drought Relief Program developed from a ‘Drought Catch Up’ evening in Coonabarabran on August 10. It was initially designed to provide some company and relief for those who had been “totally tied to their farms for many months”.

Two hundred people attended the catch up evening and $6,200 (given in donations to the club principally through two people) was distributed in Visa cards of $100 each to 62 families, along with hampers and sundry items.

“There were also many door prizes of wine and small gifts. Music was provided by a local band and people enjoyed the event. We expected this would be the extent of our drought initiative.”

However, donations kept coming. So in response to receiving donations from individuals and Rotary clubs across the state such as Nambucca Heads, a Drought Relief Fund was established as the main component of a Drought Relief Program, Mrs Wilkin said.

Components of the program

1. As part of the aid structure, applicants (farmers, small business owners, those employed in drought affected rural occupations) are invited to apply for up to $1,000 based on receipts or invoices for farm goods, household expenses etc. To date, all applicants have been farmers, except for one small business owner, Mrs Wilkin said.

Currently, the fund has distributed a total of up to $103,000, all the result of donations from Rotary clubs like Nambucca Heads and some individuals. 

An analysis of the receipts submitted with applications has shown that  76% of receipts have been for stock feed and feed supplements; 11% of receipts were for farm items and mechanical costs; and the rest (13%) were for shire rates, power, medical/dental costs, vehicle registration, communications and household costs.

2. A second component of the program is the distribution of 108 x 20kg bags of forage sorghum seed, valued at $13,000, sent to us by Pacific Seeds, via the Rotary Club of Boggabri.

“The little bit of rain in the area has been timely.”

3. “A third component has been the lamb jumpers project started ‘accidentally’ by Marie Knight. Over 20,000 jumpers have been knitted and delivered here by mail, sorted and distributed, helped by Rotarians and CWA ladies. We are now packing away the remaining jumpers ready for next year,” Mrs Wilkin said in her letter.

“There have been countless heartfelt expressions of support accompanying the jumpers from knitters all over Australia who were really glad to be a part of this project. It has been a marvellous ‘community building’ exercise.” 

How to donate

To assist in this program, you can make donations directly to the Drought Relief Fund via Coonabarabran Rotary Club: Bank account: Rotary Club of Coonabarabran Drought Relief. BSB  932000. Account  100420575.

For more information about the program and what has happened so far, visit www.coonabarabranrotary.org/what-we-have-done-so-far

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