Shannon Noll helps raise funds for drought-stricken farmers
SHANNON Noll knows the gut-wrenching anguish of having to walk off a drought-ravaged family farm.
The What About Me singer and his brothers Adam and Damian made the decision to sell their Condobolin property after two years of failed crops in 2001 as they tried to keep the farm going after losing their father Neil in an accident.
They managed to raise enough money to settle debts and buy their mother a home but the loss of the farm, which had been in the family for 98 years, still hurts.
Noll has released his new single Lean On Me to raise funds for Drought Angels.
"We were in debt up to our necks after we lost dad and we tried to farm our way out of it and had two failed crops,” he said.
"It was in 2001, two years into a 10-year drought, and we couldn't afford another year of failed crops.
"If we kept trying, we would have been walked off the farm and locked out.
"We sold up and were able to buy mum a home.”
Noll has seen first-hand the work of Drought Angels, which provides not only food for farmers and feed for their animals but also, just as importantly, emotional support for the people who are battling depression as they struggle to keep their properties going.
"Blokes are proud, you know, and you might see them every day and not know the inner turmoil they are carrying,” Noll said. "These people need to know they are not alone.”
Noll said his song was also a tribute to the thousands of Australians who were leaving their own properties and businesses to offer assistance to the drought-affected regions.
"The meaning behind the song for me is we want to let those in rural Australia know we are trying to do what we can,” he said.
"And it is a tribute to the people who are leaving their own livelihoods and spending money to support these people - these tireless volunteers who are the ones standing up and busting a gut to help.”
Like dozens of his musical mates, Noll is putting his hand up to perform at fundraising concerts in the coming weeks to keep the drought relief going.
Another champion of our farmers, John Williamson, also has been approached to play a concert next month.
Williamson's new record Butcherbird features the song Pigs On The River, about the alleged theft of water by irrigators along the Murray-Darling River System, highlighted by a Four Corners expose last year.
The True Blue country music legend said he was proud the song had become an anthem for many of the family farmers in the region where he once had his own property.
"The song has been getting a good reaction,” Williamson said.
"It has encouraged people all the way down the river to stand up because it showed them there are people who care about what they are going through. The drought is making it harder all the time for the family farms.
"I am seeing them dropping off everywhere and the big corporations are buying them up.
"What worries me is eventually we will just be farm workers for people who don't feel this country as the original farmers do. We are forgetting just how beautiful this country is out there and I just wish I could get across how the bush makes me feel.”
Jimmy Barnes also has committed to donating royalties from his Working Class Boy soundtrack record to drought relief.