ONE of the small central Queensland communities some fear may be “falling through the cracks” of drought relief was given a big boost on the weekend.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Lions Clubs around Queensland, Bundy to the Farm, the St Ursula’s Old Girls plus the local policeman and community nurse and their networks, Jericho was inundated with generosity in many forms.
It included 10 trucks and 11 trailers of hay and other fodder such as pumpkins and potatoes, 10,000 litres of molasses, pet food, Share the Dignity bags, clothing, and perishable and non-perishable goods.
The village of 115 people on the Capricorn Highway 85km east of Barcaldine and 490km west of Rockhampton is part of a Lions six-month campaign known as Adopt a Town, being conducted along with coastal Rotary clubs.
Lions Q4 drought and disaster relief coordinator, Michael Roach, said their region, stretching from the coast to the Northern Territory border, had identified 15 little communities in the central region that were screaming out for help.
“We did a needs analysis – that told us what was missing was cash,” he said. “The things we’re doing saves money being lost in freight, and it keeps towns going.”
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The initiatives include 45kg gas bottle refills, $800 grants for tankers to replenish drinking water supplies, pairing kindergartens in Tewantin with those in droughted towns, and the possibility of Christmas hampers.
Much of what happened at Jericho at the weekend was done under the watchful eye of the town’s community nurse and 2017 RFDS Local Hero, Lesley De Landelles, who raised the initial alarm after a grazier admitted he was at the end of his tether.
She contacted the Drought Angels, who put in a number of calls, and enlisted new senior constable, Luke Young.
On Saturday, Luke, who has previously worked at Caboolture, where he found there was no opportunity to really make a difference, said the outcomes in front of them were overwhelming.
“Some of the people here have not seen their neighbour for eight months – they’ve just been staying at home and hurting.”
His words were echoed by local landholders, Carl Bonham, Mick Campbell and Allan Coyne, who all said the district was experiencing some of the driest times they’d ever seen.
Allan has had 85mm in total for the year at Cavendish and said he’d never had to sell cows and calves before.
“Still, we’re OK, we can still have an ale at night,” he said.
He couldn’t speak highly enough of the initiative unfolding on the weekend.
Georgia and Steve Bennier, along with Brett and Belinda Benstead, were among those responsible for the Bundy to the Farm delivery of 11 trailers worth of hay, produce, molasses, hampers and sweet potato seconds, all of it donated.
Here's the amazing young constable who helped make Jericho's drought relief effort a reality. He's only been in the town 7 weeks and used to be in Caboolture but said there was no opportunity to make a difference there @lionsclubs@email@example.com/xAI97qjdEk— Sally Cripps (@sallyQCL) September 15, 2018
They went far and wide for the hay, sourcing 400 bales from Tiaro, as well as from Charters Towers, Childers and Bundaberg.
Among the produce was watermelons, strawberries, zucchinis and beans, all of it very welcome in a town whose only shop closed five years ago.
Georgia said people had been totally overwhelmed by the avalanche of giving.
“It’s all been donated out of the goodness of Bundaberg people’s hearts,” she said. “They were on the receiving end in the floods so they understood what it’s like to be in need.”
The Townsville Castle Hill Lions were busy handing out packages of home-baked banana bread, cookies, marmalade, pickles, and Anzac biscuits, all items with shelf life and recommended by Lesley de Landelles as welcome for people preoccupied with keeping their stock alive.
I don’t think they’ve invented the word for what’s happening here now – it’s better than fantastic
The group has been active in the north west for a number of years, including at Hughenden Hay Days, which is why Drought Angels put a call in to the them when Lesley de Landelles got in touch.
“We’ve been raising money for a while so we had a bank account and could instantly respond,” Don Rolfe said.
“Always at hand are our Lions Christmas Cakes, and our treasurer paid for vouchers for the Barcaldine IGA, always guided by local recommendations.
“Lesley also suggested bulk handcream for hands cracked from putting out lick blocks and hay all day.”
Michael Roche said the combined effort of many concerned for the welfare of inland communities extended to CWA, Rotary, RFDS, community church groups, and Centrelink staff.
“We’re also talking to the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association and the Western Queensland Drought Appeal,” he said.
"This is not a one off event. We look to the community to help us with this project.
“By way of example, the residents of a small retirement village in Buderim collected $309 for the local Lions Club to help Jericho.
“Every dollar counts.”
- This story first appeared on the Qld Country Life.