Barbie fires up a flame for the future

PEOPLE from as far away as Sydney have joined hundreds from around the region at a barbecue in Walgett aimed at providing some relief from the stress of the drought.

The Drought Buster Barbecue was the idea of Tamworth men Bill Caley and Neville Evans, who both have family farming the Walgett area and have seen first-hand just how hard the area has been hit – both the farming and business communities.

The idea soon gained wide-spread support from sponsors, politicians, farming groups and residents from far and wide who welcomed an event designed to give some hope and comfort and put a positive spin on the future.

Up to 400 people gathered at the Walgett Showground on Saturday night for the barbecue, which was also a chance to distribute hampers and vouchers, many all the way from Sydney.

Sydney-sider Meg Thomas, from the suburb of Bellrose, drove  a group of friends to Walgett and 80 hampers they put together with donations of more than $6000.

Ms Thomas, a school friend of the Walgett Shire mayor’s wife, Annie Murray, grew up in Junee and said the event had been a “real highlight”.

Other donations included vouchers intended for spending within the Walgett community which, in turn would help to support local businesses.

Also mingling with the crowd was former television personality turned painter Ernie Dingo who, with his own laconic style of humour, managed to raise plenty of laughs.

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce praised the efforts of the Tamworth-based organising committee, saying it had resulted in a fantastic night of socialising, with old friends reuniting and new friends being made. 

Unable to attend the event because of his part in a trade delegation to the Middle East, Mr Joyce said the importance of the night could not be overlooked.

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