by Alana Calvert
IN THE eerie Australian folk ballad Diamantina Drover, the historic Cork Station was immortalised as a central figure of the outback cattle industry.
But, on the Drought Angels’ most recent run to help battling farmers, the Cork Station of today was found to be a frail shadow of its former self.
“This was our toughest trip. We heard the most gut-wrenching stories,” Drought Angel Natasha Johnston said.
“Usually I’m pretty strong but I broke down for this one.”
Chinchilla transport company, Erb Bros had been a large part of the Drought Angels since “day dot” but over the Mother’s Day weekend earlier this month, operations manager Craig Sharpe finally got the chance to join the convoy.
“I told the boss, ‘I don’t care if I have to have time off, I’m going’,” Mr Sharpe said.
“(Erb Bros Transport owners BJ and Warren) are the only ones I know with hearts as big as (the Drought Angels’) Nicky and Tash. They’ve got hearts bigger than Cubby Station,” Mr Sharpe said.
With his dad to help keep him awake and 35 tonne of supplies for farmers in tow, Mr Sharpe left Chinchilla on May 5, bound for Cork Station, approximately 130km south-west of Winton.
“(The owner of) this... magnificent old station... had to sell it all off and he’s kept this tiny little portion of it and that’s the only way he can survive. The banks had to sell the rest,” he said.
It was the same story with the 30 other farming families invited out to Cork Station to receive food and other basic essentials from the Drought Angels.
“One old fella... couldn’t really afford power and his woodstove had broken a few years ago. So in winter he would put every single piece of clothing he owned on to try and keep warm. But he spent all his time and effort trying to keep his cattle going and he couldn’t even afford to fix his stove.
“It shook you to the bone.”
Mr Sharpe said an enormous number of farmers were living in the kind of poverty incomprehensible for most Australians.
“These farmers sacrifice so much to keep their stock going, to keep Aussies fed.”
Drought Angel donations can be made through the Chinchilla Family Support Centre on 4662 8528.