Wonderful community effort to support Sir Ivan bushfire victims

Coolah property

Coolah property

It's amazing what community support can achieve with the Merriwa Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal raising just over $900,000 to aid victims of this terrible natural disaster.

The fire was still posing a serious threat when a group of Merriwa and Cassilis landholders got on their phones on Sunday night, February 12 to see what could be done to assist their neighbours and the other community members affected by the Sir Ivan bushfire that had just burnt through 52,000 hectares of land.

Sir Ivan all-but wiped out the small village of Uarbry, and claimed numerous homes, livestock including renowned stud stock, buildings including one historic homestead, and other farming assets throughout the Leadville, Turill, Cassilis and Coolah districts.

Sandra Watling, Goorangoola with Robert Gill, Alexander Downs with five heifers purchased for the Merriwa-Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal in February this year.

Sandra Watling, Goorangoola with Robert Gill, Alexander Downs with five heifers purchased for the Merriwa-Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal in February this year.

Almost overnight those landholders had established the Merriwa Sir Ivan Bushfire Appeal with the assistance of the NSW Farmers who provided a bank account for people to make donations.

Now nine months later that appeal is about to distribute $905,000 (final figure to be calculated once audit completed) to those people who were impacted by the fire. 

The money was raised through the donation and purchase of cattle (bought with donated monies) that were fed at the Gill family’s Alexander Downs feedlot at Merriwa for 100 days before being processed in Tamworth.

Grain used in the feedlot was also donated as was the transport of the stock to and from the feedlot. In total 545 head were processed that included 208 donated cattle and 337 purchased animals. A special mention must be made of Woolworths who bought 85 per cent of the Appeal cattle and paid above market rates. The remainder of the stock were purchased by Alexander Downs.

Chariman of the Sir Ivan Fire Committee Rob Tindall said the results of the Appeal showed how the idea had worked extremely well in our district. He paid special credit to the Gill family whose efforts from the start to finish were fantastic. “Its was an amazing commitment of the Gill family to make this Appeal so successful. There is no doubting the huge contribution made by their company Alexander Downs,” he said. “We also want to thank everyone who made a donation and assisted in anyway no matter how small or large as it was a true community effort.”