It was a cold Southern Highlands morning when we left Moss Vale at 5am en route for Sydney Airport. Bob Simpson was leaving on the 7am flight to Perth to begin his epic bike ride from there to Bundanoon to bring awareness to Post Traumatic Stress and to fundraise for Quest.
Bob wasn’t expecting us but we wanted to wave him off before we headed out west to Coonamble. He was looking fit, relaxed and excited, a wonderful combination for the long journey ahead. Bob will be in our thoughts and at the end of our rainbows every day until he crests the hill and turns into the driveway at Quest.
As Bob begins his long ride across this wonderful country, I was heading out to western NSW to deliver a series of workshops to communities living in drought. A very generous donation by the Helen Lyons Foundation has made these workshops possible and Quest appreciates their recognition of the effects of drought on farmers, families and communities.
A LAND IN TROUBLE
We headed out over the Blue Mountains and as we drove deeper out west the land flattened and the paddocks became dryer and browner. A terrible wind had kicked up and the air became full of dust. Whatever topsoil that hadn’t already been blown away was swirling around and being tossed across the road and into the air. This is surely a land in trouble.
We were out this way 7 months ago; the drought was being talked about on the news and written about in the newspapers, but then, as the country slipped into winter, drought and its shocking effects were mentioned less frequently. It may be out of sight for people in big cities, but it’s very much in the minds, the hearts and everyday lives of communities out Coonamble way.
A SENSE OF BELONGING
Amanda Glasson is the Rural Resilience Officer with the Department of Primary Industries for the North West. Amanda has helped to organise the workshops and we were chatting over a cup of coffee this morning. Amanda said someone had made a generous donation of 2 holidays that she was having trouble giving away. What? Who wouldn’t want a free holiday?
But people are reluctant to leave their animals and their land such is their deep connection and feeling of responsibility. At a time of such trouble, staying put to feed stock is where they feel they belong.
So we’re in Coonamble running 3 workshops and then we’ll head out to Walgett where they have to truck in drinking water. Yes, we love a sunburnt country but out west NSW the land is dying of thirst, livestock are hungry and the people are in despair.
WHAT BRINGS RELIEF
People are hungry for the practical tools of meditation and mindfulness. They relish the practices as it provides such relief from the mental challenges of managing ‘life’ through the drought – it puts a strain on relationships, stock numbers, feeding and the eternal question of when conditions might change for the better.