by Helen Heinrich

My husband Rob and I were born and bred in the Victorian Mallee town of Rainbow, and love the lifestyle and freedom that being on the land brings.

We have experienced drought periodically since our childhoods.

In 2016, we heard about the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners, based out of the New South Wales Riverina. It involved loading donated hay and straw onto semi-trailers and driving it to drought-affected farmers in isolated areas.

We contacted Brendan Farrell, who started the Hay Runners in 2014. Since his first solo run, there have been 14 hay runs to help farmers in New South Wales and Queensland, with convoys of up to 260 trucks.

It’s a great feeling to give from your heart and of the product of your own land, as well as having our own community donate hay. It’s an Australian spirit of grace.

Since 2016, we have made two more trips to outback Queensland. Unfortunately, we missed out on last year’s hay run as God had other plans. I was diagnosed with leukaemia a few weeks before we were to leave and I was devastated that I couldn’t make the trip.

But after months of chemotherapy, a bone-marrow transplant and going through recovery, I was cancer-free and strong enough to make this year’s hay run to Quilpie in south-west Queensland.

Bumping along the roads seeing our country’s beautiful sights, I thanked God for getting me through a very long year and for my returned health.

As we arrived at the sweltering town of Quilpie, we were greeted by locals waving and holding banners to thank us. The drought hasn’t taken these people’s fight and passion away – they are pushing through even though it is tough.

We have met some wonderful people and made great friends through the hay runs and we hope to do more trips to help our fellow farmers throughout Australia.

We pray for rain and strength for these areas of devastation and know that some day we will return to see their land flourish and new hope for their future generations.

Helen and Rob Heinrich are members at Rainbow Lutheran Church, Victoria.

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