Central Victoria is truly the lucky country, so far escaping the crippling drought that is devastating New South Wales and Queensland.
But with that luck comes a responsibility not only to roll up our sleeves and to donate now, but to ensure that we remained energised to help farmers if the drought stays for the long haul.
The huge movement of livestock from south eastern New South Wales – exemplified Monday when numbers not seen this time of year since the early 2000s arrived at the Bendigo Livestock Exchange – illustrates how minimal rainfall is making a mark across ever-wider tracts of the nation.
Our region’s farmers are in a better position than those up north thanks in part to two good years of weather that other patches did not get. Sure, farmers here are making plans in case spring rains are underwhelming, but there are growers who can hope to harvest a canola crop and others who can expect to replenish depleted supplies of hay.
The good news for central Victoria could be bad for others, because the tyranny of distance brings a risk the drought could be relegated to the back of our minds.
So our luck comes with responsibility not only now, when the crisis is saturating media coverage and the issue is fresh in our minds, but into the foreseeable future.
For the central and northern Victorian farmers who are doing okay right now, the task is simple.
“All you can really do is make hay available when you can afford to sell it” and to do so at a fair price, one farmer told the Bendigo Advertiser last week.
What we can do, as the people who live in towns and cities, is continue to bring the vigour that so many of us have showed in recent weeks, reaching into our pockets to buy bales and support communities.
We can also set clear expectations for politicians, making it clear they continue to prioritise drought relief funding and pointing out when it will not be enough.
We did it before during theMillennium Drought and we can do it again.
The most important thing is to remember just how lucky we are.
Tom O’Callaghan – journalist