Outback Links tradies restore farms and hope at Lightning Ridge
While many of us were priming ourselves for rest and recreation over the October long weekend, volunteer tradies in Frontier Services' Outback Links program were travelling back home after a hot and dusty week fixing farms and equipment in the remote northwest of NSW.
For five days mechanics, plumbers, electricians, painters and a host of others descended on drought-afflicted Lightning Ridge, sharing their skills with 30 local properties.
The resulting repairs were well received and a boost for struggling farmers who are facing their fourth year of drought.
One farmer remarked: "It's knowing that people took the time to come out here and help and that makes such a difference."
The tradies' trek began on the evening of September 26, when the Outback Links team gathered at the Bridge Hotel near Bathurst. The friendly publican arranged a charity auction to support the trip. Perthville farmers opened their hearts and their wallets raising over $8200 to help their mates further west.
Driving in convoy to Lightning Ridge, making a strategic detour to Bunnings in Dubbo for some extra equipment and a pre-arranged sausage sizzle.
Volunteers worked in small teams working across seven different properties each day, staying at a different property each night.
Eight NRMA mechanics repaired tractors, trucks, farm vehicles, water pumps and even a windmill. Plumbers, painters and landscapers worked on numerous odd jobs painting the exterior of a house, repairing cracked pipes, paving an outdoor play area for the farm children, replacing and painting rotten weatherboards on an elderly farmer's house.
Outback Links Volunteer Manager Kate Parsons was delighted at how much the team was able to accomplish in a week.
"Putting together an Outback Links tradie trip is a big logistical effort. We are so grateful for all the input and contributions from local financial counsellors, the farmer coordinators, local community groups, our metro business and trip partners," she said.
Farmers and volunteers came together on the last night for a thank you party where there was a sea of smiling faces, and an opportunity for city and country folk to relax and mingle.
On his last night in Lightning Ridge, one volunteer enthused: "It was the most rewarding week of my life - I'm definitely coming back!"
Our thanks go to trip partners NRMA, SALT Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen), NECA, and Laser Electrical Orange.
And thanks to the Sunday Telegraph for noticing our work!
Frontier Services has been working with people in remote Australia for more than 100 years and has been working with volunteers through Outback Links for more than 10 years.
Our Thanks To:
• West Ryde Toyota, for generously providing three vehicle services
• Mr Frank Moschella, CEO of Ferndale Gardens for a generous donation of wine for the 'thank you' party
• Rotary Cherrybrook West Pennant Hills and Rotary Club of Ballina On Richmond for financial support and 'support' crew volunteers
• Valvoline for donating oil.
• Auto One Pacific Spares for donating filters.
• Hornsby Auto Electrical Services for donating a starter motor.
• AutoPro Campbelltown for providing mechanical parts at discounted prices
• Mudgee and Dubbo Bunnings, for providing a sausage sizzle lunch for the volunteers on their way to and from the Ridge!
• NRMA and Thrifty for providing vehicles for the support crew, NRMA Mechanics and the executive visitors.
• NRMA Cartographer Paul Buttigieg for making a great map of the properties for the trip
• Ford Civil Contracting who are providing fuel for volunteer landscaper Kelly's vehicle
• Club Assist – for generously providing vehicle batteries
• Lightning Ridge Rotary – for providing a BBQ and drinks for the party!
• Robyn Walters – for bringing a portaloo for the party all the way from Coonamble!
• Hebel Sports Association and Hebel P&C for providing a coolroom, chairs, tables and cutlery and other essentials for the party.
What They Said:
"It means so much that these young people have come out to help us."
"The work they did makes such a difference."
"You have to keep telling the story of this drought until someone listens."
"Having people here is a distraction that is needed in times like these."
"It's beautiful that these people have come out here to help"
"We'd love you to come back when times are good"
"Without our farmers, what are we going to eat? Of course we have to help!"
"We definitely get more out of it than the farmers do."
"I'll never forget this week"