If the heart was measured in metres, Brendan Farrell’s would be 80,000 long.
After five months of logistical planning, he is about to embark on a remarkable journey to deliver over $1.3 million worth of hay to drought affected Queensland farmers.
It is a mission that is set to break a Guinness world record: 117 freight trucks travelling top-to-tail in a conga line that spans an astounding 80 kilometres in length.
“This is the longest convoy of donated hay in the world, no one has ever done it,” says Brendan who prepares for his tenth and largest hay run as member of the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners organisation.
Departing from Darlington Point in New South Wales on January 7, the convoy will travel 1,860 kilometres to deliver the hay to properties in Central Queensland, a region that has been devastated by ongoing drought.
“Queensland is a very big state and there are a lot of big stations out there so we’ve got to make sure we get the ample amount of hay to each station that we can,” says Brendan.
Struck by the severity of conditions, Brendan decided it was time to do something to help when the government wasn’t.
Fuelled entirely by determination and the generosity of donors, Brendan and his wife Shannon have dedicated countless hours and phone calls to organising their first relief mission in to Queensland.
“They need hay… We are just doing our part to try to keep them on the land and keep some stock going so when the times do become good they’ve already got their breeding stock there to build their numbers again.”
After crossing the Queensland border the convoy plans to stop overnight in Barringun before completing the final leg up to Ilfracombe, where the hay will be gifted to 270 grateful farmers.
Brendan says he received countless expressions of interest from Queenslanders in need, but the hay will be distributed based on stock numbers and the severity of drought conditions.
“If we don’t give them hay and let the third and fourth generation farmers know there’s people who care they are going to be walking of the farms left right and centre… then Australia is going to be in a lot of trouble.”
Local drought relief group Drought Angels have also stepped in to contribute a grocery box for each family which includes a $100 IGA voucher, dog biscuits and a prepaid VISA card.
“We’ve always admired what Brendan has done,” says Drought Angels founder Nikki Blackwell.
“This is his tenth hay run and we thought we’d just do something together… it’s going to be amazing.”
The convoy will culminate with a community concert in Ilfracombe, giving farmers, truckers and locals the chance to celebrate and thank one another for their displays of generosity.
To the sizzle of sausages and the songs of beloved country-western performer, Jayne Denham, the concert will be the perfect conclusion to this monumental undertaking.
“The drought is pretty tough so it’s just a way of getting everyone out for the night… whoever just wants to come,” says Nikki.
But for Brendan, it all comes back to the families.
“Just to see young kids smiling, just to know that their mums and dads have some hay to keep their stock going… It’s the smile on people’s faces that make us keep doing it.”