Bales for Bendemeer: Coffs Hotel calls for help
BENDEMEER, the small farming village on the Macdonald River, is one of many places doing it tough as the drought takes hold of the state.
But for Coffs Hotel's Marty Phillips it's the place where his family hails from, and the publican is hoping to raise funds to bring vital food and hay to the struggling village.
The Coffs Hotel has several hay bales on sale for $100 and $30 with proceeds going directly to the cost of transporting the bales to Bendemeer.
Marty's close friend of more than 18 years, Gary Stevenson, has donated tonnes of hay from his Bonville farm to support the fundraiser, while family operated Bucca Creek Pastoral Company has donated half the cost of baling the hay.
Any individual, family or business who buys a bale will sign their name on it so the farmer receiving the bale knows who it has come from.
All the team needs now, however, is a semi-trailer and driver.
"I've spoken to a few people in Bendemeer and they're really struggling. The farmers are getting close to shooting their stock,” Marty said.
"The Macdonald River is just trickling at the moment, it's about run dry. I used to swim in that river when I was a kid.
"We want to help them keep going for a bit longer. We've got plenty of food and hay bales but it's just a matter of finding a truck to get them there.”
Marty said it would cost thousands to hire a semi-trailer and driver to transport the donations.
The team are also gathering donations from local banana and blueberry farmers.
"The pub will chip in and we'll all do our bit to hopefully make some funds,” he said.
"We'll also be taking a bus up to Bendemeer soon for a day. There's only three little shops there so we'll be visiting and spending money at every venue and hold a party up there.
"The town has had it so hard over the years. When the bypass came in Bendemeer turned into a ghost town, but it's a beautiful little town.”
Gary, who is donating several bales from his farm, worked hours picking out weeds and preparing the hay.
"It's just something you've got to do. If someone needs a hand, you've got to give it to them. It's the Aussie way,” he said.
"There's plenty there and I don't have any cattle, so there's tonnes ready to go.”
From today The Coffs Hotel will have new options on the menu - Farmers' breakfast, lunch and dinner - with half of the proceeds from each meal going towards the fundraiser.
On Saturday, the hotel will hold a hoedown with karaoke and DJs, and all proceeds will go to the fundraiser.