You could sense the anticipation, the mounting excitement as 180-plus trucks prepared to make a welcome entrance to the tiny town of Quilpie.
Banter on the two-way intensified and Burrumbuttock Hay Runners founder Bumpa Farrell zoomed back and forth as he lined ‘em up ready for the procession into town.
With lights flashing and horns blaring, the convoy made its way past the desolate landscape and was welcomed with open arms by the town’s residents.
The big rigs laden with hay rolled in to the bare, dusty red dirt of the Quilpie racecourse where a logistical nightmare of sorts was methodically and painstakingly solved.
Trucks were unloaded and re-loaded to ensure a fair allocation to farmers of the precious oaten, wheaten, pasture and canola hay and straw that will be delivered to stricken farms on Saturday.
The heat had most sheltering under the racecourse verandah but there was still a long, sweltering afternoon of work ahead for these stalwarts – those who’ve been there beside Bumpa for many or most of the past 13 missions.
And it is a mission.
This time ‘round it’s seen more than 500 volunteers and 180 trucks carting 6500 bales of hay to make this happen for our Aussie farmers in need.
Bumpa jokes that the circus has come to town.
And while there is plenty of clowning around on these runs – the camaraderie and the close-knit circle that forms is evident (there’s karaoke and barefoot lawn bowls on the cards for Friday evening) – no one doubts the seriousness of a quest to raise awareness of the plight of our forgotten farmers.
Follow Jodie and Howie’s journey live on Facebook.
Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here