Mechanics lend hand to Walgett farmers

Drought stricken farmers in the Walgett Shire have been given a helping hand, thanks to three NRMA patrol officers who came out to their property to lend their mechanical skills. The patrols, David Scott, Enzo Leto and Joe LaHoud, all from Sydney,volunteeredto assist the farming families in need.

When the Western Magazine spoke to the patrols last Thursday, they were on the property of Walgett farmer Mark Balderson.

Trip team leader David Scott said the patrols do about 10 trips peryear. Before they came to Walgett they were helping farmers in Lightning Ridge.

“Its been great to spreadthe love.In the two years we’ve been doing this we’ve seen up to 10 farmers,” he said.

Mark said the drought had made things very tough –both financially and mentally -theselast few years, so the NRMA patrols have helped in a big way.

“I’ve been trying to do a fair bit on my own. These last 4 years have been very tough with the drought and I haven’t been able to afford to pay for anything,” he said.

“Soevery bit helps. They’re a nice bunch of guys. Sometimes it feels like the farmers are forgotten out here”

After being in years of drought Mark was able to last year plant 1000 acres of chickpeas.

After so long without any rain or income, things were starting to look up.

But then the rains came. And it was too much rain and Mark lost his crop.

Mechanical help: NRMA patrolman and trip team leader David Scott at one of the Walgett Shire farmer’s property, where he and other patrols lent a helping hand in fixing their machinery. Photo: Youtube

Over a quarter of a million dollars was lost.

“People say you’ll be right but can’t be insured for a flood,” he said.

“I’ve got 4 young children and I’d like to pass something down to them.”

NRMA patrolman JoeLaHoud described coming out to the bush as a“fantastic experience” to help someone in need.

“It’s very rewarding for us,” Joe said.

“We couldn’tof done it without the NRMA board and David.”

Enzo Letoagreed that it had been a rewardingexperience.

“We’ve had a lot of support from out family in coming out here. its very rewarding,” he said.

David, Joe and Enzo spent two days on Mark’s farm helping not only with machinery mechanical work, but they also helped out with mustering sheep and shearing.

They were leaving on the Friday.

Enzo said it was wonderful to not only get the opportunity to experience life on the farm, but to also have the chance to get to know Mark.

“It’ll be emotional for Mark having to say goodbye to us tomorrow … but i think it’ll be emotional for us as well,” he said.

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