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Lake Cargelligo 2018

It is amazing how the stars sometimes align with the result being something special. So, it was with our Wagga Wagga Four Wheel Drive Club trip to Lake Cargelligo, (a town of about 1500 people in SW NSW) to do our bit to assist those doing it tough in the current drought that is tightening its grip.

As a Club we had been considering how we might give something back to the communities in our back yard – towns we often pass through on our way to somewhere else. This would be in addition to the drought relief events which other 4WD Clubs and the 4WD Association were planning in other parts of the State.

First off, members voted to donate Club funds to the drought relief effort as well as contributing the donation received from the Wagga Wagga Gears and Beers Festival which some of our members provided support for, and the donation received from the Macarthur 4WD Club for their use of our Quarry Training Area. Members also made personal donations. An application for funding support was made to the 4WD NSW ACT Association.

Meanwhile in Lake Cargelligo, plans developed for a Drought Muster Paddock to Plate Lamb Judging Competition to culminate in a dinner to give the farmers and community a night off and to celebrate the wonderful produce of the region. Our Club was drafted in to assist and numerous local and regional businesses provided sponsorship so that all proceeds from the dinner could be channelled to drought relief. After judging on the hoof the lambs went off to Junee Abattoirs who prepared the carcasses. The local Lake Cargelligo butcher prepared the cuts. During Thursday and Friday, Club members spent quite a few hours preparing donated potatoes, cabbages, pistachios, garlic, couscous etc etc for the salads for the dinner. We simply took over the Elders Manager’s house for this. On the Friday morning we had time to get our wheels dusty when we drove out to a property to talk about the impact of the drought and see the feeding of tonnes of reject potatoes to the stock to keep them going. It is an expensive daily grind. Friday afternoon saw half our crew decorating and setting up the hall for dinner while the other half did more food preparation and cooking. Two of our members took on the VERY precise cooking of the back-strap cuts for judging by a tasting panel.

On Friday night, 200 revellers descended on the hall for dinner, music and presentation of awards. Our role was to cook all the lamb hors d’oeuvres (4 big BBQ’s going flat out), prepare food for the table, serve the food and generally make sure people were having a good time. Boutique beers and wines had been donated, and there was a magnificent cake for the occasion. On behalf of our Club, our President presented ribbons to the winners of the lamb tasting competition and there was a talk about how we came to be involved.

After dinner and all the awards had been presented and speeches made, we were treated to an inspiring talk from Sam Bailey who has featured on the ABC’s Australian Story. Sam ended up a quadriplegic after a car accident some years ago and his entertaining talk outlined his journey through finding love, taking on every challenge thrown his way to continue farming and live a fulfilling life. He has modified all his machinery so he can operate it, even flies an ultralight plane and now is learning to fly a helicopter adapted to his abilities. It was a great night with a fantastic vibe.

Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to travel to the small town of Tullibigeal about 30 minutes away to set up a BBQ breakfast for a regional gymkhana with gold coin donations to go towards the drought appeal fund. This was again a great opportunity to chat with the locals.

Well, what was the outcome? Twenty-five of our Club members made the journey with many hands making light work as well as fun. We had a major role in supporting the event. We all stayed at the very nice Lakeview Caravan Park, purchased supplies in town and went to the Chinese restaurant at the Bowls Club for Saturday dinner. In addition, we presented a cheque for around $5,000 to the drought relief fund. With funds raised from the dinner and local donations, over $17,000 was handed to the local Rural Financial Counsellor for vouchers to be spent at local businesses by families in need. We had a fantastic time and feedback from the locals showed how much they appreciated our contribution. The local Elders team did a terrific job of organising such a massive and highly successful first-time event. They were great to work with. It was inspiring to see the exceptional community spirit and support from all the local businesses and sponsors. John Kent - October 2018