News National Truckies respond to East Gippsland bushfire crisis with huge ‘army of angels’ convoy

Truckies respond to East Gippsland bushfire crisis with huge ‘army of angels’ convoy

Volunteers are hauling supplies to some of Victoria's most devastated areas. Photo: Pat Rocca
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Trucks convoys driven by volunteers have hit the road to deliver essential supplies to fire-scarred towns in Victoria.

One convoy of 150 trucks departed from Bairnsdale today loaded with hay for animals, food, clothes and toiletries.

Malcolm Leys, from East Gippsland Livestock Exchange, is organising the convoy which is bound for communities like Buchan and Omeo in the fire-ravaged region.

“We’re taking everything from dog food, cat food, sheep feed, hay, toothbrushes, you name it,” Mr Leys said.

“It’s been such a wonderful response.”

The truck drivers were referred to as “an army of angels” at a briefing in Bairnsdale this morning.

Among them was Barney Langham, a tree lopper from Anglesea, whose truck is loaded hay — and his dogs, Coca and Ralph, who were tagging along for the ride.

“I just wanted to give back,” Mr Langham said.

A young man with dark hair and a beard stands next to a truck loaded with hay bales.
Barney Langham has brought his dogs along for the ride. Photo: Emilia Terzon

Dozens join Ballarat convoy

In addition to the convoy of 150, more than two dozen trucks from the Ballarat region have formed a convoy to deliver hay to farmers in East Gippsland.

Dunnstown beef cattle farmers Laiken and Karl Britt spent Sunday delivering hay to the community of Omeo, as another statewide convoy of almost 150 trucks delivered supplies to other parts of the state.

Ms Britt says she has been overwhelmed with the level of community response over the weekend to her online call-out for trucks and hay.

“If we expected that kind of response I reckon we would have planned it a couple of weeks away, not two days away,” she said.

“But it’s all worth it, we’re driving up into the bushes now in Omeo and there’s people on the side of the road smiling and waving.

“It’s really nice to know that we’re helping.”

“The road has been closed — I think this is the first time the road’s being used, and we’ve got 22 trucks on it.

“So it’s a bit unknown.”

‘Doesn’t get much worse’

Beekeeper Bill McNamara left his home on the Mornington Peninsula at 3am to drop off a load of hay to a fodder donation station just outside Bairnsdale.

“Fire on top of drought,” he said.

“It doesn’t get much worse.”

Mr McNamara said he had done “a whip-around” of others in his area, asking for hay to feed animals in fire-affected areas.

“We’ve had a good year back there,” he said.

“It’ll keep some livestock going.”

At Tallangatta in the state’s north-east, the relief centre has been so overrun with donations for fire-ravaged communities that it has had to turn some away.

A man unloads bales of hay from the back of a truck.
Bill McNamara said people in his area had enjoyed a good year and wanted to help fire-affected farmers. Photo: Karen Percy


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