Oh what a feeling: Rally for farmers goes from strength to strength
Rising fuel prices and gathering push-back against gas-guzzling cars will not deter a popular LandCruiser rally that continues to raise money for farmers impacted by natural disasters.
Drought fundraiser Brent Reeman with his 1973 Toyota LandCruiser. (Photo: Kristy Gogolka)
The rally’s main organiser Brent Reeman said he “gets the irony” of taking 50 Toyota LandCruisers out on the road for a 5000 kilometre trip to help farmers on the sharp end of climate change, but has plans to make next year’s event even bigger.
“When it comes to helping farmers and rural people out, I think the good we do far outweighs the bad,” he said.
Reeman and his team are still celebrating this year’s record achievement from the rally called Long Drive for Drought, which raised $130,381 for charity partner Drought Angels to help Queensland farmers impacted by natural disasters like drought, flood, fires, and plagues.
Scientists argue that such events are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate breakdown accelerated by greenhouse gas emissions escaping from petrol or diesel powered vehicles.
The Queensland Government this week announced that it would be converting most of its operational fleet of vehicles to hybrid and electric models within two years in recognition of the urgency.
Launched by Reeman in 2020, the rally was conceived through his affection for vintage LandCruisers, long revered in the bush as a model ideally suited for rough roads, adverse conditions and long-distance travelling.
Reeman believed the sight of 50 Toyota 40-Series LandCruisers travelling through central west Queensland would be a visible way to show support for struggling farmers and draw attention to their seasonal challenges.
In terms of raising funds and awareness, Reeman’s advocacy has been a success, with the event’s cumulative tally at $265,466, with more than half that amount already distributed to farmers through a variety of methods including pre-paid visa cards to spend locally, food and household products, feed for pets and stock and other ways depending on their needs.
Drought Angels CEO, Natasha Johnston, said she was in awe of how much the event raised year on year.
“The fundraising goal keeps getting bigger each year for this event and each year it is blown out of the water – I feel so humbled that Drought Angels are the charity partner of Long Drive for Drought,” she said.
“We feel even more blessed that this incredibly small but generous group of people put their hearts and souls into fundraising for our Aussie farmers to support them through the challenges that Mother Nature keeps throwing at them. It’s a truly unique and powerful event run by people with big hearts.”
Reeman said the initial goal in 2020 was $40,000, increasing to a target of $100,000 this year.
“We clearly smashed that,” he said.
“We couldn’t do it without the incredible and generous, every-day-people that drive in the convoy, some of them use their annual leave to join, to help us raise awareness and money for Drought Angels, and we also thank the communities and councils who host us along the way.”
Despite the event’s growing profile, Reeman does not expect the number of vehicles to increase.
“We’ve got to the limit of what we can manage, but our list of generous sponsors continues to grow,” he said.
“There’s just no stopping us.”