Gold Coast Health’s drought fundraising campaign ‘Goldie for a Grower’ has brought welcome relief to the isolated community of Toompine near Quilpie in western Queensland.
Two road trains of hay arrived in the community this week with bales distributed to 13 farmers for their hungry livestock.
Local farmer Kate Bowen, who runs a 20,000-hectare cattle property with husband Stuart, said the hay came as a real surprise for grateful farmers who hadn’t had a good season for five years.
The Gold Coast Health appeal raised $15,415 to send hay through the Buy a Bale charity with staff holding bake sales, dress like a farmer events, a scarecrow competition and gold coin donation tins throughout hospital wards and work areas.
Ms Bowen said farmers were doing it tough and waiting for rain, despite some parts of coastal Queensland receiving wet weather in recent weeks.
“We’ve been feeding our 350 cows and calves mulga shrub and cotton seed so this hay is a real boost,” she said.
Gold Coast Health Chief Executive Ron Calvert said the health service’s 9000-staff were not immune to the struggle faced by farmers in drought across the country.
“These communities need every bit of assistance they can get. In fact, our fundraising campaign was a direct result of a staff member reaching out and suggesting we do something to assist those communities in the grip of the harsh conditions.
“This campaign is a sign our staff are committed to living the values of the organisation – integrity, respect, compassion and empowerment,” Mr Calvert said.
The health service already had connections with the Quilpie Multipurpose Health Service (MPHS) through the Nursing and Midwifery Exchange Program.
Ms Bowen said it was a good symmetry knowing the hay had come about due to generosity from Gold Coast Health workforce.
“My daughter Lauren has worked at the MPHS for seven years so it has special meaning for us,” she said.
The hay arrived in Toompine this week and provided an opportunity for farmers to get together and talk about how they were coping during the drought.
“Stuart took a bobcat over to our neighbour’s property where the hay was offloaded with 13 farmers each receiving 13 round hay bales,” Ms Bowen said.
“We don't qualify for any government drought assistance as Stu works off farm when work is available so this hay means a lot to us. The cattle will love it.”
“Fortunately, we have a good supply of water from the Artesian Basin that is piped throughout the property so we have fresh, clean water for the animals and together with the mulga, both are so precious to us.”
The 120-year-old South Western Hotel is all that remains of the once bustling town, which was settled after the discovery of opal nearby in the 1860s.