Mullaley farmer Andrew Frend headed to the city in December to share first-hand the impacts of the drought.
Mr Frend was invited to Sydney for the Red Earth Christmas Concert, which focused on life in the bush through Australian carols and a novel “rain machine”.
The concert was hosted by Lane Cove Youth Orchestra (LCYO) and Hunter Hills High School, which raised more than $2500 through the event.
The funds will go to the Namoi Partners in Learning – a partnership of public schools in the Gunnedah shire – with the aim of helping local students in need.
LCYO president Lyndall McNally said the concert was held every year but this year they wanted to do something special for Lane Cove’s sister city.
“It’s good at Christmas time to think about others, and giving,” she said.
With some help, Ms McNally came up with the innovative idea of creating “rain clouds” and a “rain machine” out of guttering, tin and musical instruments.
Concert-goers could purchase “rain drops” (marbles) and put them into the rain machine.
“We wanted to make something musical and a bit innovative to release their marbles into,” Ms McNally said.
They were very appreciative that they got that first-hand side of what was actually happening.Andrew Frend, Mullaley farmer
“I bought a long piece of gutter and I installed little tone bars into it like a xylophone and little hand bells so when people released their raindrops, they would run down the xylophone and make a musical noise and we had that leading off to the hot tin roof.
“The marbles went down the roof and as they went down there they hit the coloured bells at the bottom and a drum and all the marbles collected in a tank.”
Ms McNally said the organisers were “delighted” with the generosity of participants.
“There was a lot of interest in the concept and the contraption made it fun for the younger kids who didn’t have too much awareness of drought,” she said.
Ms McNally said she was “grateful” that Andrew Frend made the long drive to Sydney to attend the concert and in turn Mr Frend felt it was a worthwhile venture.
“Something that was really noticeable when I spoke to the people down in Sydney was the fact that they were very appreciative that they got that first-hand side of what was actually happening,” Mr Frend said.
“When they hear from someone who's in the thick of it, it means so much more to them.
“I’m trying to close that gap between the country and the city.”
Mr Frend is a beef farmer at “Milbulla” near Mullaley and said “in my lifetime, it’s been the worst drought”.
The third-generation farmer is “very busy feeding” 300 head of cattle and said more regular rainfall has delivered “a little bit of a reprieve”, but it’s not enough as the level of bore water dwindles to only three metres.
“We’re having to buy more water now that the heat has hit,” Mr Frend said.
“We have fairly depleted reserves now and we can only pump a short while.
“When the drought breaks, we need floods to replenish our aquifers.”
Mr Frend was watching storms form on the horizon when he spoke to NVI on Friday and was feeling somewhat hopeful following a fall of 17mm the day before.