BONE DRY: The North Burnett has been lucky, so far. But the forecast isn't great and the drought is expected to continue to creep toward the east coast. This photo was taken 90 kilometres southwest of Blackall.
BONE DRY: The North Burnett has been lucky, so far. But the forecast isn't great and the drought is expected to continue to creep toward the east coast. This photo was taken 90 kilometres southwest of Blackall. Lisa Alexander

DROUGHT APPEAL: What you can do to help

NORTH Burnett farmers are doing it tough but it hasn't stopped them digging deep to give to those worse off a leg up.

Grazier Melissa Brown is spearheading Monto's fundraising effort to assist the drought-stricken farmers across western Queensland and New South Wales.

What began as a Facebook appeal for formal gowns has snowballed into something much greater and residents and businesses are getting on board.

Melissa knows first-hand the hardship and stress that drought can bring.

Formerly a dairy, the Browns' cattle property between Monto and Mulgildie has been in the family for five generations.

For families like the Browns their home means more than just their livelihood.

It's impossible to put a price on the sentimental value of the land.

Mrs Brown spoke to the anguish and heartbreak struggling farmers go through as they stare down the barrel of surrendering property that's part of their history.

That is the cruel reality of life on the land, at the mercy of conditions you can't control.

Mrs Brown remembers receiving a care package during severe drought in the 1990s. She remembers how much it meant to her.

Unable to afford help on the farm, they worked themselves into the ground trying to feed their cows.

She said when you're down it's important to know that other people care.

Money raised through her appeal will go to Chinchilla-based Drought Angels, supporting families in trouble further west.

Drought Angels provides dog food, hay, pre-paid visa and fuel cards, as well as grocery and hygiene packs.

Those who can spare it are asked to leave money or IGA gift vouchers in Mrs Brown's donation box, which can be found on the counter of The Fox and The Hare salon.

The
The "Burrumbuttock Hay Runners" huge convoy of arround 250 prime movers and 400 trailers complete their 1860km run hauling $6 million worth of hay to Ilfracombe. Lyndon Mechielsen

Organisers have been overwhelmed by the response and others are throwing their support behind the appeal.

The pub launched "Parma for a Famer”, Cafe Delicious is running a Bondi Chai raffle for the CWA and Just Teasin is donating $1 from each transaction in the month of August toward their Hair to Help campaign.

Just Teasin owner Judi Baldwin said every little bit makes a difference.

"My family has been farming in Monto since 1924 and I know how hard it gets,” Mrs Baldwin said.

"If we don't get any rain we're all going to be in the same boat.”

It's no secret the rural economy is driven by agriculture.

While farmers are unquestionably hit hardest, the devastating impact of drought has a powerful ripple effect that is felt throughout reigonal communities.

It's enough to cripple small business.

"If farmers can't spend money it wrecks the whole town,” Mrs Baldwin said.

"Getting your hair cut is a luxury so we're the first to get dumped.

"I'm gobsmacked at the generosity of some people, but it's what you expect in the country.”

Outback communities are renowned for their resilience and everyone is encouraged to chip in.

Donate, volunteer, shop local and call to check in on someone if you know they're doing it tough.

In these trying times, it all counts.

If you would like to donate directly, you can visit the Drought Angels or CWA Queensland websites.


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