A young Irish couple, backpackers, a student and a 'grey nomad' are among those pitching in to help farmers recover from the Curraweela fire.
The varied crew have joined BlazeAid's camp at the Taralga Showground, assisting graziers to repair fencing.
The Curraweela fire, 20km north of Taralga, burnt 4437 hectares after it broke out on March 16. A house, farm infrastructure and some 85km fencing were destroyed. More than 200 head of stock died, according to earlier assessments.
Though the green tinge is returning to paddocks, farmers are still recovering from the blaze. The NSW Reconstruction Authority is coordinating assistance.
BlazeAid Taralga camp manager, Mike Roberts, said the volunteer organisation set up 10 days ago, following a community request. Several volunteers arrived a week ago.
Just five farmers turned up to an information night last Wednesday but Mr Roberts expected demand to grow.
So far he has two people in the field, with another three arriving this week. Fencing on one property has already been completed. Another has 11km to complete.
"We'll be here for two to three months if the volunteers keep coming because there's a lot of fencing to be done," he said.
"...At this stage, farmers are reluctant to say they need help but I think they'll come forward once they see what we do. We'll stay as long as they want us."
A young Irish couple on a tourist visa was working on a Craigs Road property on Wednesday.
Mr Roberts said they'd struck up a good relationship with the owner who'd invited them for meals and 'cuppas.'
"There's always satisfaction in helping people whether it's with fencing or having a chat. There are people out there hurting, feeling lost and wondering how they'll start again," he said.
Mr Roberts was born New Zealand's dairy farming country but moved to Adelaide and worked for Telstra for many years. Now he's a semi-retired contractor to the telco, while volunteering with BlazeAid.
He recently wound up a seven-month camp in Victoria, helping people recover from floods.
"It's a fantastic experience because you get to travel around and look at the countryside. I enjoy it because you get to meet people, including all the characters," he said.
Volunteers come with all levels of experience. Some haven't fenced at all but BlazeAid coordinators and farmers show them the ropes. Mr Roberts said landowners were more likely to engage them once they developed confidence in the volunteers' ability.
BlazeAid brings its own equipment while farmers supply the fencing material. Volunteers work six days a week, returning to base every night.
Mr Roberts set up the camp, complete with some 'sleeping huts' assembled in a shed. However some volunteers were sleeping in their cars and required accommodation.
He said community member, Noelene Cosgrove had been invaluable in coordinating the showground and facilities with Upper Lachlan Shire Council. The council had also set up an account with IGA Crookwell for volunteers to purchase food.
"The community has been very welcoming," Mr Roberts said.
"Someone dropped off several trailer loads of firewood, people came with chocolate biscuits and the CWA with meals.
"We enjoy meeting the people and the countryside is quite spectacular with its rolling hills. We'll stay here as long as we're needed."
- Landowners who require BlazeAid assistance, or people who can help with volunteers' accommodation can contact Mr Roberts on 0418 817 552.
- Crookwell-based Ecology Consulting will hold an ecology workshop at the Taralga Memorial Hall on June 16 at 9.30am to 11.30am to help landowners recover from the fire. At 12.30pm attendants will travel to local properties to gain an understanding of the impacts. RSVP to Jo Marshall on 0408 97 6070 is essential for property assessment.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: