Something a little different today, as I travel for an appointment this weekend… I will be reflecting on a farming area in central-west NSW. I have snapped this photo, as we travel through Coolah NSW today. I am reminded of the Sir Ivan bushfire only 2 years ago in this area and the devastation that was thrust upon those many farmers and home-owners. A destructive blaze that destroyed their homes, businesses and livelihoods… yet their strong will and resilience have somehow seen them through.
The Sir Ivan bushfire started at the small rural locality of Leadville and burned about 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of land near Dunedoo, Cassilis and Coolah in February 2017. The blaze destroyed 35 homes, farm machinery and killed about 4,700 sheep and 500 cattle, which cost the region millions in damages. Tragically many of their dogs were also lost in the inferno.
Due to the enormous scale of this disaster, the charitable support and working volunteers from BlazeAid and the NSW Rural Fire Service… were a great savior bringing assistance and hope. I recall BlazeAid volunteers stepped in to help rebuild boundary fences and other farm structures that had been damaged or destroyed. BlazeAid volunteers worked in the area for many months, helping individual farmers, families and the local community. I remember the Country Women’s Association (CWA) members driving down from Tamworth to cook meals for the voluntary workers and farming community and to help lift their spirits.
Meanwhile, the Merriwa-Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal were fund-raising to help the victims of the disastrous bushfire, by asking people to donate cattle or funds that could help purchase cattle. Through wider community support, 515 head of cattle were sold and the appeal had raised $835,000. This appeal was focused on rebuilding more internal fencing, sheds and water infrastructure, as a medium-term initiative.
Sadly these farmers haven’t had a chance at a full recovery, because they have gone straight from a catastrophic fire… into drought conditions. These producers need decent rain to allow pastures to make a comeback and the natural vegetation of trees and shrubs to possibly recover.
Today, I share with you this photo as a symbol of the strength and resilience of farmers. In a time when farmers were faced with a natural disaster… they found the strength to rebuild their lives and continue farming in the agricultural industry. In a devastating time, when “giving up” seemed the best option… they didn’t. Somehow they found that inner strength… to get up again and overcome the pain and loss incurred.
Rural Reflection #7…
This photo shows a lucerne paddock in the foreground, struggling in drought somewhat, but recovered from the bushfire. It seems this region has been fortunate in receiving some of the recent storm rain, which has helped, but plenty more rain will be needed to break the drought and retain moisture in the soil for future crops.
The gentle hills behind, provide livestock with shelter, which has not properly recovered, even after 2 years since the devastating bushfire. The bony hills have had all the natural vegetation burned out and has not recovered at all. I like this photo because it shows the extreme variation of farmland, terrain and soil structure in Australia, which depicts the Australian rural landscape quite well… from the productive lucerne flats and undulating hills, up to the arid rocky outcrop. It also is a symbol of survival through adversity and optimism for the farming future.
I do find this natural diversity of land very interesting… with 51% of Australian land being used for agriculture and only 10% is arable or suitable for growing crops. Land use has a major effect on our food production, natural environment and communities. In Australia, food security is regarded very highly as high food safety standards are implemented. Factors that affect land management include climate change adaption, population and urban expansion.
It is not uncommon for rural families to be forced to travel some distance to other regional cities to see medical specialists. When we travel, we tend to choose a route for a rural deviation as a means to avoid traffic as well as take the opportunity to view other farming areas.
It is a farmers passion for the rural industry and in recognising the need to sustain the future food security of our country… that they find the inner strength to persist and endure the struggles. The hope for their future is also supported by many Australian communities through reputable charities, whether it was in recovering from the devastating bushfire or this horrid drought.
Take care, Karen.
“In the end,
some of your greatest pains
become your greatest strengths.”
~ Drew Barrymore