Mortlake Dispatch
Strength in numbers for fire recovery help

THE Lake Bolac and district community has united under a common cause – supporting fire-affected communities in the state’s east.

What started as a simple Facebook post from Lake Bolac Police Acting Sergeant Sam McCaskill calling for local support quickly snowballed into an operation involving 15 truckloads of hay and Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopters.

“It was a fantastic community effort,” he said.

“It shows the support that smaller towns can give.”

Actg Sgt McCaskill made the initial call for support on Thursday, January 2, but only planned to take one truckload on the journey.

“Everyone wanted to help,” he said.

“I certainly didn’t expect that it would be 15 loads.”

Truck drivers from near and far offered help, including  from Mortlake, Woorndoo and Pura Pura, while other local community members donated spare bales of hay to the cause.

Actg Sgt McCaskill touched base with Orbost Police farm crime liaison officer Jo Geddes to organise further support to get the loads where they were needed most.

The convoy set off on its journey east last Thursday, January 16.

The Victorian Farmers Federation helped register the trucks and helped link the volunteers with communities in need.

The drivers spent a night in Lakes Entrance, where they were warmly welcomed by the community, each receiving a lunch pack for their efforts.

ADF helicopters also helped transport fodder to areas in need.

Actg Sgt McCaskill thanked all supporters of the drive for their assistance.

“The generosity of Lake Bolac and district was absolutely fantastic with a value of approximately $150,000 worth of hay and transport all donated for an excellent cause,” he said.

An extra five trucks will carry more loads of hay from Lake Bolac to the east of the state over the coming weeks.

Aerial support: Australian Defence Force helicopters also lent a helping hand in transporting fodder to fire-affected communities in East Gippsland.