ROBYNNE Kelly married into the drought in 1979 and almost four decades later she says the marriage is still going strong.
The Kelly family farm at Newbridge, around 30 kilometres south-west of Bathurst, was chosen as the NSW Government’s location to announce its latest funding package to help farmers across the state.
Currently, 100 per cent of the Central Tablelands is affected by the drought – 31 percent declared in intense drought, 63.1 per cent in drought and 5.9 per cent drought-affected.
Times are tough, debt levels are rising and the stock sell-off continues at an alarming rate by farmers who can no longer afford the cost of feed.
Robynne married Cliff Kelly in 1979 and the couple brought up two sons, Andrew and Stuart, at their sprawling property on Caloola Road.
Their farm is a family enterprise and they run merino sheep and cattle.
There may be a little water in the property’s dams, but paddocks are bare and stock have been hand-fed for many months.
“I was married into the drought,” Mrs Kelly said.
Stuart [the couple’s first child] didn’t see rain until he was 18 months old.Grazier Robynne Kelly
“Cliff thinks it’s worse than the drought that ran from 1979 to 1984.
“Stuart [the couple’s first child] didn’t see rain until he was 18 months old.”
Mrs Kelly said the family’s farm is “not doing as bad” as others, but admits that the lack of rain does has had an impact.
“Andrew said all he can think about is feeding sheep,” she said.
As the drought worsens across the state, the cost of fodder has risen on a weekly basis and in some cases freight charges are as much as the feed itself.
Mrs Kelly said the family had long ago made the tough decision to sell off some of their sheep and cattle.
“We started selling-off last spring,” she said.
The drought has had far reaching impacts on the rural community as well.
“A lot of young people are having to go off-farm to get a job,” Mrs Kelly said.
- For help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.