A CLOUD of dirt and dust barrelling up the highway was a welcome sight for the community of Muttaburra, Queensland last week as graziers awaited the arrival of the 12th Burrumbuttock Hay Run.
More than 146 drivers donated both their time and their prime movers to transport hay from every corner of Australia as part of the charity convoy.
The 212 trailers of feed were distributed among 157 graziers from the area, the final stop at the end of a combined thousands of hours of drive time.
"The truck drivers that come on the run and given up their time have hearts of gold and they do a great job,” organiser Brendan Farrell said.
"At the end of the day, we are all just truck drivers trying to help. A lot even use their holidays up to come - and bring their families along.
"It's not every day you drive smack-bang into the middle of Queensland.”
Both a farmer and a truck driver himself, Brendan has brought the trucking community together to form the now iconic Burrumbuttock Hay Runners, dedicated to delivering feed to drought-affected communities.
"The drought isn't over by any means, many of the people we speak to are financially stuffed,” Mr Farrell said.
"Many farmers can't afford to restock because cattle prices are too high, and once they de-stock they can't afford to get back into the market.
"With no assets to go to the bank with, the mental games start playing because you aren't needing to get out of bed to feed for the day.
"It's all a vicious cycle.
"That's why it is so important for these communities to know people are aware of what's happening.”
Fellow driver Patrick Burke from Leeton, NSW echoed the sentiment.
Working between the agricultural and transport industries, Patrick came across the run on social media and felt a strong urge to get involved.
"A lot of what Brendan is trying to do is about mental health, because at the end of the day you will never cart enough hay, but this shows them someone cares,” Patrick said.
"I don't have a truck or a trailer, so I beg and borrow to get them so I can help out.
"I've now done all but one of the trips.
"It's about mateship and I'll keep doing it as long as I can find a truck and trailer.”
Riding shotgun on the journey with Patrick was none other than Senator Pauline Hanson.
"We met during the (Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal) disputes and she has been coming along to a few since,” Patrick said.
"She doesn't talk much,” he laughed.
To date, the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners have assisted more than 8000 farmers nationally, with an ever-increasing number of drivers volunteering.
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said the convoy's arrival was a welcome change of pace for the area, with more than 1500 people attending the concert held to welcome the tired drivers.
"It was a fantastic effort by the people that donated the hay, the people that donated money to help, everyone who organised and, to drill it all down, it couldn't happen without the help of the truckies,” the central-west mayor said.
"The dedication was amazing.
"That afternoon I passed a driver with NSW plates who wasn't staying for the concert.
"He said he had to turn around and make it back to work by Monday.
"The hay may only relieve people short term, but it's the gesture that really counts.
"Having people travel all the way out here to mix with local landholders and forget about the drought for a while is something pretty special.”
All graziers who received donated hay were chosen via an application and ballot system.
Donations to the hay run are collected by the Rotary Club of Sydney and go to covering some of the cost of fuel and food for volunteers.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.