Post by Post - Fencing connections help rebuild bushfire ravaged communities
Driving through the scorched blackened landscapes in the Snowy Valleys region, green tinges emerge through the trees, showing a period of regrowth and the resilience of the communities devastated by ferocious summer bushfires. In amongst these scenes of sprouting leaves and grasses, another wave of positivity briefly shows on many farmers faces as they benefit from a special new rebuilding project. Purchase a Post is a collaborative campaign in which Delta Agribusiness branches have been accepting community donations to purchase a black steel Australian Waratah Fencing steel post for $6.25, or more if they wish, by contacting a Delta Agribusiness branch. These were then to be delivered and distributed to various farming properties affected by the Dunns Road bushfire, which burnt more than 333,000 hectares in the Adelong, Batlow, Talbingo and Tumbarumba districts. Within 48 hours of the campaign launch, 2,500 posts were sold and it wasn’t long before the campaign really gained momentum. At the end of the first round, a total of 13,400 posts were donated, which was enough to fence 47km. Now, after a second round which raised over $47,000, more than $130,000 in total has been received. “We were all aware of the widespread devastation and loss of life and property that these fires delivered on our communities,” Delta Agribusiness Managing Director Gerard Hines said.
“As a private company that invests heavily in regional communities, Delta Ag wanted to do something special to contribute, and we are exceptionally proud of our team for initiating and driving this unique campaign, and very pleased to be able to directly help some of our affected clients and families in those affected areas.” The support and contributions from suppliers and local businesses has been widespread. FMC donated $36,800, made up of corporate donations and staff donations which the company matched dollar-for-dollar. Wagga’s Commonwealth Bank branch held a morning tea with participants purchasing a post to attend, and the NSW TAFE plumbing section held a series of barbeques for a total of $2,000. The Kooringal Hotel ran a ‘Parmi for a Post’ campaign and Wagga business Teys Australia donated $5,000. Other farmers and families donated, and even young children like Mia and Darcy Oldfield, collected up all their loose change and brought it into their local Delta branch to contribute to the campaign. “It was definitely overwhelming to hear the stories of kids and their pocket money putting in that effort and wanting to be a part of it,” Yaven Creek cattle breeder and Captain of the local Rural Fire Service Brigade James Pearce said. For the Yaven Creek brigade’s area, all 23 members endured devastating property losses in the fires, with the area faced with a minimum of 95 per cent grazing property lost.
“It was a total disaster in the beginning, especially trying to secure stock. We’ve got many kilometres of fencing to do, we’ve had to put stock down… The necessity for getting some fencing secure especially around the boundaries is paramount, so the Purchase a Post initiative was a valuable one to reduce some of the costs,” James said. James and his family manage a Poll Hereford Stud with 1,600 head of cattle, across 1,800ha and had 95 per cent of the grazing country burnt. Two hay sheds were destroyed, 240 hay bales lost, a woolshed and house also destroyed, and they lost 170 head of livestock. “We saved our house, but it certainly hit us very quickly and we could only do so much to prevent it. It’s an awful feeling to watch it burn having put so much work in to the property to have it damaged. We are grateful for the volunteers who fought hard at the time to save as much as they could,” James said. As Delta Ag Wagga’s Branch Manager Matt Hardy coordinated a haul of utes and tractors gathered for one of the massive distribution operations, he reflected on the concept that was actually conjured up during a dinner table discussion with his own family. Whilst firefighters managed to save their house and woolsheds on his parents’ farm between Tumbarumba and Jingellic, around 60 per cent of their pastures were lost.
“We were chatting about the enormity of widespread losses, and my sister, Prue, initially made the suggestion that somehow if people could each buy a post to rebuild fencing it would make such a difference…” Matt recalls.
It took just 24 hours after Matt took the idea to senior management for the campaign to be launched on social media with Waratah Fencing also offering their support to supply bulk orders and donating extra posts, strainers and pliers. “Without having fences, farmers can’t contain and manage livestock and we found that so many fences were burnt out with many also made of an old timber construction. With so many livestock on roads, fencing was certainly going to be one of the most important parts of managing the farms moving forward, which is another reason this campaign has been so worthwhile and appreciated by these farmers,” Matt said. Delta Ag teams have assembled fully equipped fencing rigs with pneumatic tools to assist in the rebuilding process and have been staffed by Delta team members. Several volunteers have been also on-hand to take part in the massive distribution effort and Delta Ag worked with the Yaven Creek, Darlow and Wondalga NSW Rural Fire Service brigades during the allocation process.