Teaming up for Tottenham

Tottenham Signs
Tottenham Signs

The discovery of copper in 1903 put the township of Tottenham on the map and today it's home to a small, but close knit community of 299 - mostly farmers, who are rallying against the elements as the drought moves into its fifth year.

With the plight of the state's farmers being heard nearly 500km away, the NRMA teamed up with Australia's oldest bush charity - Frontier Services, to travel to drought affected farms in Tottenham, volunteering their skills for those doing it tough.

From Avalon to Padstow to Glenwood, mechanics jumped into their roadside assist patrol vehicles, equipped with tools and parts and travelled up to eight hours to the farms where there is a critical need for mechanical skills and parts.

Farmers Jeff and Kathy Fragar hosted the NRMA team on their sheep and cattle property, where they’ve had to destock by 90 per cent and are hand-feeding their remaining breeding animals. While on a nearby properties, Howard and Michelle Weber and Phil and Melinda Mills who also hosted mechanics, have resorted to hand-feeding their remaining stock. Working in pairs, the mechanics repaired farming vehicles, replaced clutches, fixed tractor gears and fuel leaks, as well as carrying out chainsaw and forklift servicing – all of the tools that farmers need to ensure they can continue to stay on their properties.

For the rural community of Tottenham, recognised as the closest township to the geographical centre of NSW - the drought brings an uncertain future. Parched, dusty paddocks are scattered as far as the eye can see and farmers are relying on increasingly expensive fodder to keep their livestock fed. Across this drought-stricken town, there are remarkable tales of community strength in the toughest of times and no town embodies it more than Tottenham.

On average, more than 80 per cent of Australia receives less than 600mm of rainfall a year. The toll on the land is clear to see, however the impact of drought on the farmers themselves and their families can be just as devastating.

Rural communities, like Tottenham, built on the back of farming are at the mercy of the elements - and when the elements are unforgiving, it places enormous stress on an industry that does so much to put food on our plates. For many, their farms aren't just a business, it's a birthright. There are families that have four generations of farming behind them and many still hold hope that their children will be the fifth to carry on the family tradition.

While the effect of the drought extends beyond the farms, it can also have an effect on mental health. Farming isn't a nine-to-five job and for many of the farmers that live on isolated properties - having NRMA mechanics on site, albeit for a few days gave them some much needed respite and company. With funny jokes told, quite a few bad, many of tall stories and even some truth - the team at NRMA have made connections and new friends by standing with those in the bush.

It's important that people in all parts of Australia rally around our farmers and ensure they know they aren't alone. We can't make it rain, but we can support our farmers and their families in a time of extreme hardship.

Donate to farmers in drought

If you'd like to connect skilled volunteers like our mechanics with people in rural Australia who need a helping hand, donate below