WHEN Luke McLennan and Lisa Virgona put a post on Facebook calling for donations of hay for Gippsland bushfire victims, the phone started ringing almost immediately.
Such was the support from the Derrinallum district community that two B-double loads and five single loads of hay will be transported to Rosedale this Sunday for distribution.
“We were watching coverage of the fires and the devastation they caused on the news about a month ago and Lisa said ‘I think we should do something – everyone around here has had a pretty good year’,” Mr McLennan said.
“Lisa runs Farm Assist Stock Handling and I have my own trucking company, so between us we pretty much know everyone.
“We thought if everyone donated two bales, we should end up with quite a lot.
“What followed was far more incredible than that.”
One farmer near Skipton donated 150 bales in one hit, another near Derrinallum donated 21 big squares, while most other donations were either six or 12 bales or rolls.
“We didn’t have to ask anyone, they were all ringing us wanting to drop hay off,” Mr McLennan said.
“I ended up just leaving a tractor in my yard for them to come when they could and unload it themselves.
“We ended up with about 160 tonne of hay, which at an average price of $300 a tonne adds up to about $48,000 worth of hay.”
A lot of people also made cash donations to the Lismore BP service station to cover the cost of fuel for the trip.
Mr McLennan said the trucks were loaded and ready to go, with some of the donated hay left over ready for a second trip in a few months’ time.
“We know there will be an initial rush to help the people in Gippsland, but they’ll be needing help for a long time yet,” he said.
“Their seed bank has probably been burnt and they’ll have to reseed their pastures, which all takes time.
“If people can still donate hay, we’ll take it and put it towards another trip.
“A couple of bales here and there doesn’t mean much to us at this end, but it will mean a lot in Gippsland in terms of keeping stock alive.”
With three of Mr McLennan’s own trucks dedicated to the trip, owner-drivers from Derrinallum, Terang, Beaufort and Skipton have volunteered their trucks for the trip.
The group plans to set off at 5am Sunday (stocked up with lunches prepared by the Lismore and Derrinallum CWA) so they can all return home in time that night to load up ready for work as usual the next day.
Mr McLennan thanked everyone involved for their donations and support.
“This community is incredible – they’ve really made this happen,” he said.