USED to coordinating aid in conflict zones abroad, 12/16 Hunter River Lancers Major Grant Prendergast never expected to be doing it at home.
At least 2000 head of cattle have been lost to malnutrition or drowning in the drought in the Watsons Creek and Kingstown areas.
It’s survival, that’s the best way to describe it, surrender is not an option.- Grant Prendergast
“The reason why I started doing it is because this drought is on a scale that’s never been seen before in this area,” he said.
“It’s survival, that’s the best way to describe it, surrender is not an option.
“Some people have lost their entire herd, their entire income is gone.”
Working alongside drought charity Aussie Helpers, Mr Prendergast managed to pull together 42 tonnes of sweet potato, 32 tonnes of molasses, 300 bales of hay and two tonnes of food for working dogs.
Some of it had to be dropped off immediately because the situation in the region is so dire.
Starting at 8am on Monday, Aussie Helpers and Mr Prendergast coordinated traffic control and aid to farmers in desperate need.
Hours later they were still giving handouts to drought-stricken farmers, Mr Prendergast learned a lot about who needed help most by speaking with neighbours in the area.
“Farmers have run out of water, stock, feed – just the ability to buy feed is extremely difficult due to the cost,” he said.
“They were really overwhelmed, every little bit helps it just reinforces to the farmers not only here but within northern NSW that they aren’t forgotten and help is available.
“This drought is no different to fighting a war because surrender just is not an option.
“We’ve given to between 30 and 40 households in the area and that includes food and some household items just to help people get through.”
And, Mr Prendergast has experienced the impacts of drought on his own property in the area.
He believes he’s lucky to have held on as long as he has.
“For me personally it was pretty tough, I have cattle and I lost several head of cattle due to drowning in mud in my dams and through malnutrition as well,” he said.
“Not one person in this area has been left untouched by this drought, I’m just one of the lucky ones who’s managed to make it this far.”
Farmers needing help can visit aussiehelpers.org.au.
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