VIDEO: Drought relief convoy driving the Christmas spirit
TWO blown tyres, seven hours and a few bogged forklifts later, the hay was delivered.
What started as a few guys asking around for help after seeing how the drought had reduced Longreach and surrounds to dust and bones, had become huge - and just in time for Christmas.
As the hay was unloaded -- and a few forklight drivers pulled from the mud -- farmers began trickling in to the Barcaldine Show Grounds to take their share and talk to the people who brought it to them; a convoy of more than 50 utes.
The convoy set out from Gracemere on Saturday morning with 600 bales of hay, seven tonnes of dog food, groceries and gifts.
It might not seem like much but it's a bit of relief for a community that's been waiting three years for the wet season.
Barcaldine farmer Bill Owens has 30 horses left on his property; he took six bales of hay.
"It might only last a couple of weeks, but that's a couple of weeks more hay than I have now," Mr Owens said.
"It's the thought that counts more than anything, that you people came out here to see us."
The hay run didn't just put a smile on the farmers' faces - on the road out west drivers were asking over the radio, ''where's that hay going?', as ute after ute passed them loaded up, some decorated with tinsel.
Raising awareness and making a show of support for struggling farmers was exactly what organisers were hoping for from the trip.
"This was also about bringing people out here to see what its really like so they will tell their friends and people might better understand what the bush is going through," one of the organisers Brad Peacock said.
The group from Gladstone, Rockhampton, Gympie and Bundaberg showed how deep they can dig again when they raised another $400 on Saturday night the for Barcaldine Boxing Club, just from passing a hat around.
Our reporter Helen Spelitis was on the trip, check out the coverage below.
Follow our reporter Helen Spelitis; she's on the road with the #gladstonehayrun heading out to Barcaldine this weekend.
If you've got an update, or a photo or video, share it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #Gladstonehayrun
Longreach farmers Rowley and Jenny Deane have already moved their cattle to a property at Bourke, but they're trying to keep their rams alive.
Mr Deane picked up four bales of hay; all he could carry home.
Even that amount will make a difference and the fact more than 50 people made the trip to bring it to him means the most.
THE time has come for a convoy of utes that has been gathering hay and feed for months to head out west.
And there's been no shortage of people to help get this far.
More than $2000, 600 bales of hay, seven tonnes of feed, toys, food and thoughtful gifts were donated by the Gladstone community.
Jeff Winter, from the Rockhampton's CQ Offroad four-wheel drive club, drove down to Gladstone on Thursday to pick up the hay his club members will be taking to meet the convoy at Gracemere, at 6am, Saturday morning.
THE convoy of utes headed west this weekend loaded with more than 500 round bales of hay and seven tonnes of feed will no longer go to Longreach.
Instead they'll be stopping in Barcaldine and unloading at the showgrounds, dropping off donated trauma teddies to hospitals along the way.
The change was decided on Monday after organisers, who have been collecting donations since October, couldn't find anywhere available to unload in Longreach.
Organiser Gene Anderson said it was disappointing given Longreach was their main target.
"We couldn't do it unless we used someone's private block and that wouldn't make it easy for others to come collect it," Mr Anderson said.
"But the people of Barcaldine are deserving and suffering just as much as the people of Longreach."
Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler said they would ensure the goods were distributed fairly by the drought committee.
He said it was a wonderful contribution from Gladstone and the surrounding areas, but admitted by the time the 520 bales of hay were divided between the struggling graziers - it wasn't a huge amount.
"It's special that a group has come from far and wide to support the community," Mayor Chandler said.
"That's why I love being an Aussie. "People give knowing they will never get anything back.
"Each grazier is likely to end up with only five or six round bales each.
"The property owners don't have a lot of stock on at the moment, but they still have the household pets, the kids' poddy calves and they're trying to keep their rams and bulls, and working dogs alive so it will make a difference."
Mayor Chandler said the hardest pill for the community to swallow right now was the record high cattle prices.
"That drives it home even further," he said.
"The thought that - if we only had stock, if we only had a better season we would be in a much better position."
The goods will be delivered to the Barcaldine Showgrounds and by tomorrow graziers will have been notified they can start arriving at the showgrounds at 1pm on Saturday to pick up their allocation.