THE last time the residents of Coonabarabran saw aircraft zooming overhead they were water bombers busily trying to fight the devastating fires that destroyed more than 50 houses around the Warrumbungle shire.
Yesterday a different vehicle flew into town when the Westpac Rescue Helicopter landed with some special guests on board.
Newcastle Knights NRL stars Kurt Gidley, Willie Mason, Jeremy Smith and Chris Adams joined former Canberra Raider and Tamworth product Alan Tongue on a special trip to the fire-ravaged community.
There they met up with legendary Knights coach Wayne Bennett, who made the trip by road. Together they met with the locals and did what they could to help.
“They’ve had the bushfires there and it’s been a tough time,” Gidley said before leaving from Tamworth.
“So we’re going out there to go to some schools and muck around with the kids.
“We’re meeting the mayor of Coonabarabran (Warrumbungle Shire mayor Peter Shinton) and other members of the community.
“We’re also handing over a cheque for $13,800 from the Newcastle Knights.”
The club raised the money by auctioning off a special game-day experience to a generous fan and was added to the mayor’s bushfire appeal, which has raised more than $500,000 already.
The Knights are in Tamworth this week ahead of their NRL trial game with the Cronulla Sharks at Scully Park on Saturday.