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Tenterfield BlazeAid coordinators Eddie and Judy Bland made a quick five-day trip across the Nullabor to arrive at the Tenterfield Showground last Thursday. They're now busy setting up camp before the expected 30 volunteers arrive to help the community get back on its feet after last month's bushfires.
So far only 23 landholders have registered for assistance, and Mrs Bland is sure there are many more affected properties than that. She urges those who need help to register as soon as possible, as the voluntary effort will move on to somewhere else if there is insufficient need here.
"We're here to help," Mrs Bland said.
"It's no good if we set up the volunteers here and there's no-one to help."
A container arrived Monday with essential workshop and kitchen equipment, and there are eight tradie-type 'combat' trailers packed with tools and gear on their way from Bundarra. (If anyone is coming back that way and can hook up a trailer, their help would be greatly appreciated. This will avoid Mr Bland and a mate making repeated round trips to retrieve the trailers.)
The landholders need provide only the fencing wire and posts. In special circumstances of hardship, Mrs Bland said BlazeAid can offer limited financial support in the way of vouchers to be redeemed at local suppliers.
And it's not just fencing that the crews tackle. One job on the Tenterfield list is pulling down a burned out shed that the farmer can't stand to look at.
"We assist in whatever way we can," Mrs Bland said.
By the end of next week she expects to have 30 volunteers onsite, not counting those drawn to the crusade by the signs she's about to place on the highways to attract passing travellers, which often happens.
The volunteers will be set up at the showground on the northern side of the creek, with free camping, a limited number of sites with power and water, and three meals a day, but they have to work for it.
They are always sent out in a team and no prior knowledge is required as there's always an experienced worker on hand. Any locals who can spare the day should show up at the showground for the 7am muster, and they'll get breakfast as well.
The catering schedule will probably kick off this Thursday when there will be 10 or so volunteers on site. Sue Jurd and neighbours have kindly taken the first shift, but other community organisations, service clubs and even neighbourhoods are invited to supply a meal. Mrs Bland said BlazeAid can provide funds to purchase ingredients if required.
She expects the first job to tackled by the end of this week, possibly an urgent need for fencing at a Tabulam property to separate two stallions.
Jobs will then be allocated as volunteers become available, but Mrs Bland urges landholders to get in touch with the coordinators as soon as possible so that their job can be scheduled.
Landholders, volunteers, potential caterers and trailer transporters can all contact the Blands on 0427 614 546 (Judy) or 0427 614 540 (Eddie).