Byron locals step up to support drought relief

Two of the six trucks of hay sent to struggling drought-stricken farmers from members of the Mullumbimby CoOp. Photo Jeff Dawson

Aslan Shand

Byron Shire locals are coming out in force to do what they can to help farmers and farming communities.

There is a range of initiatives happening across the Shire, not least the six trucks with bales of feed that the Mullumbimby Co-Op sent out to struggling  farmers on Monday.

‘The Co-Op began the venture back in mid-July with Buy a Bale,’ said manager Tony Maclerio. 

‘It has been awesome to see other businesses and the Mullum Chamber supporting the cause.

‘So far, about 800 bales have gone out and the loads have been sent to Blandford, Wellington, Rouchel, Aberdeen, Timor, Cassilis, Currabubula, Stroud, Gloucester, Barraba and Bathurst. And we are still going! 

‘Donations have also been taken in store. Big shout out to the truck drivers, local farmers donating their paddocks and the farm contractors who are cutting and baling. And of course to Buy a Bale!’

Dress like a farmer

Bingara Central School in the New England region of NSW has connected with Mullumbimby through Kimberlee Thompson, a community support worker who rang an old Mullumbimby friend who has been farming out west for around 20 years.

Kimberlee said, ‘My friend was worried about another friend in the Bingara area – she was really concerned about her and she asked me to call.’

Kimberlee is now getting ready to head out to Bingara at the end of the month to lend a hand.

She says, ‘There are so many issues; every day they are having to make decisions about which stock to keep, caring for sick animals, sourcing feed, supporting children and more.’

One aspect many people are struggling with is filling out the paperwork for grant applications.

‘They just don’t have time,’ pointed out Kimberlee. 

The local council will be providing Kimberlee with an office to assist people filling out paperwork for assistance and to help coordinate community support, respite and food supplies etc.

Jenelle Stanford, president of the Mullumbimby Chamber of Commerce, said, ‘I spoke to the principal of the Bingara Central School and she said, “We get boxes of baked beans, but we need soap and shampoo”.’

‘The school’s SRC came up with the idea of fundraising for their local farmers and are calling it A Little Bit of Help From My Friends,’ said Jenelle.

So that the school can help locals get the things they need, the Mullumbimby Chamber are asking everyone coming to Mullumbimby on Wednesday August 22 to dress up as a farmer and make a gold coin donation to raise money to support the Bingara Central School’s campaign. 

‘There will be donation boxes at the Mullumbimby Newsagency, as well as other participating stores throughout town,’ said Jenelle. 

Local schools are also being asked to join in the day to raise money, as well as take the opportunity to connect with the Bingara Central School via email and video links. 

Even Mullum preschool kids are pitching in to support farmers’ families by donating toys. Photo Aslan Shand

Drop-off points

Meanwhile, the Mullumbimby Community Preschool is collecting donations of new kids’ toys, to be distributed through Anne Thompson’s North Coast Drought Appeal.

‘We are collecting new toys until Friday August 24,’ said Di Davidson, who runs the preschool.

You can drop donations at the preschool, which is located on the corner of Fern and Station Streets in Mullumbimby, during business hours. 

Suitable donations, suggested Anne, are non-perishable items such as tinned food, toiletries, laundry products, sanitary items and tinned pet food.

These items can be dropped at locations throughout the Shire: Ray Towers Carpets (Mullumbimby), Anglican Church Op Shop (Byron Bay), Newrybar Produce Store, and Summerland Credit Union in Bangalow. 

The team at Byron Bay’s Post Office are collecting dog food and everyday essentials to help farmers suffering from the drought. Photo supplied.

Drop dog food and everyday essentials at Byron PO

Byron Bay Post Office is collecting goods for the Dubbo-based group Helping Aussie Farmers NSW Inc. to support their dog food and everyday essentials programs.

Their M12 Working Dog Food Plan of Attack program aims to help supply 100 farmers with 12 months of pet food and water for their working dogs – so 10,400 x 10kg bags of dry dog biscuits and 10,000 containers of drinking water.

The post office team is also gathering everyday essentials such as toilet paper, cleaning products, as well as tea and coffee supplies.

If you would like to donate dog food or everyday essentials, you can drop off items at the Byron Bay Post Office.

BBQ & Bluegrass

The Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival will also be acting as a drop-off point for non-perishable items. 

Festival organiser Fletcher Potanin said, ‘In support of our farmers and the disastrous drought happening right now, this year the festival will financially support the Red Cross Drought Relief ( and will support the Food for Farmers initiative with a drop point for non-perishable goods at the festival.’

Fashion 4 Farmers 

Recognising the link between climate change and increasing drought, locals Hannah Brooks and Kate McBride are running an inaugural clothes swap in Bangalow. 

Ms Brooks and Ms McBride said, ‘100 per cent of event funds raised will go to the farmers via the 2018 Drought Relief Fund for Australian Farmers, Rotary Australia Relief Fund. Every dollar counts, and we encourage our communities to help in any way they can. If we all help in some way, we can lessen the burden.

‘The idea of the event is simple – bring a range of items of garments and accessories that you would like to swap, and collect a whole new wardrobe, while having fun with friends.’

Tickets to attend are $25, and include nibbles, drinks. Tickets are available at

Beer for a farmer

The Hotel Great Northern in Byron Bay is also hosting a Buy a Beer for a Farmer fundraiser on Friday August 17. Supported by Stone & Wood and Karma Kegs, there will be a mega raffle from 5.30pm.

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