Death lines the highway running into the NSW border town of Mungindi, with the rising amount of roadkill acting as a constant, rotting reminder of the intense drought.
The carcasses of kangaroos - killed in their desperate search for food and water - add to the sense of despair for locals facing the harshest disaster in living memory.
The farming hub, about nine hours northwest of Sydney, straddles the Barwon River which snakes its way deep into the drought-stricken state.
"How long is the drought going to last? Could be a year, could be 10 years," Mungindi local Leslie Carley tells AAP.
"It's not going to be over next year. So it's only going to get worse."
Behind Carley, a truck full of donated food and water is being unloaded by a volunteer group, Sydney 24/7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space Community.
It is one of several organisations, partially funded by government, which is trucking supplies to drought-ravaged areas of the state.
"If the water has dried up, the jobs have dried up," organiser Lanz Priestley says.
Priestley believes it's important to visit Mungindi and meet locals rather than try and help remotely from Sydney.
As cartons of water and food are handed down, Carley notes another vital supply is missing - feed for local animals.
"People in the city love their animals in the same way we do (but) they have a cat. They don't have a horse, a goat, a chook and a duck in the backyard," she says.
Many local residents, not just farmers, have to make tough decisions when it comes to starving animals.
"If you've had a horse for 20 years and we're in a big drought now and you're struggling to feed it ... you send it to the doggers (horse knackery) do you?"
Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries says every cent is going towards keeping stock alive.
Drought is an accepted part of life but it's tough when the scars of the millennium drought remain fresh and 97 per cent of NSW is now in drought or drought-affected.
One farmer stayed in Humphries' fish and chip shop to avoid hearing his starving cattle baying for food at his back gate, the mayor said. Three weeks later he killed himself.
"They can only carry so much of a burden and we've all heard tragic, tragic stories about people taking their own lives.
"It's heart-wrenching and we're powerless to do anything."
The current dry, which began in 2017, now affects most of NSW as well as parts of Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
The mayor says while there's nothing new about drought "this one is just so vast ... it's relentless."
Cattle farming is the most common agricultural trade in northwest NSW but the most valuable is controversial cotton.
"People blame the cotton, people blame drought, whatever - something will crack sooner or later," the president of the Grasshoppers local rugby league team, John Robertson, says.
Robertson moved to Mungindi two years ago after the Queensland farming family he worked for was forced to sell up.
"You just battle along and keep going," he told AAP. "That's part of being Australian."
Grasshoppers vice president Garry Prince says the scale of the drought is particularly painful for the indigenous Gamilaraay people.
"It's a tough time for all of us, especially a couple of the elder people, like my dad," Prince says.
With the Gamilaraay people's traditional lands now entirely gripped by intense drought, he believes serious questions must be asked about water management.
"Our people back years ago lived and survived on the river and they knew how to control the river," he says.
Prince says his 76-year-old father hasn't seen anything like this drought.
NSW Ambulance intern paramedic Kerralyn Matterson agrees.
"I grew up here and it was dry when I was a kid, we had big droughts, but this is the driest I've ever seen it - 80-year-old trees are dying," she says.
As the local paramedic, Matterson often helps townspeople during a crisis, but she's worried too many people struggle with mental health issues in silence.
"They're trying every day to get by and keep doing what they've been doing but it's getting harder and harder," she says.
"I can't fix it but a listening ear and someone who cares is sometimes the most important gift ... when you're helpless in a drought."
Australian Associated Press