Farm survives drought, fire and is given a hand

Farm survives drought, fire and is given a hand

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HERE TO HELP: Brett Jessop chats to Wendell Sailor when the St George Illawarra Dragons visit his farm on Wednesday. Picture: Albert McKnight

HERE TO HELP: Brett Jessop chats to Wendell Sailor when the St George Illawarra Dragons visit his farm on Wednesday. Picture: Albert McKnight

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New Year's Eve bushfire causes at least $250,000 worth of damage to Jessop dairy farm near Cobargo.

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Six houses near Brett Jessop's dairy farm were destroyed in the Badja Forest Road fire near Coolagolite, NSW, so, despite their own losses, his mother considers themselves to be lucky overall.

"We haven't had a big loss, we have been very fortunate," Margaret Jessop said.

"People have lost their homes and their lives."

The blaze that reached the Coolagolite farm on New Year's Eve caused at least $250,000 worth of damage to the property, with losses including a hay shed, $30,000 worth of hay, a damaged irrigation system, plenty of fencing, as well as 20 heifers.

"It's a bit frustrating, but I haven't lost anything irreplaceable," Brett said.

"It's not the end of the world, but it's a lot of work, getting back on track."

The bushfire moved fast, coming through Yowrie, NSW, and Wandella, NSW, before reaching his property on the east side of Cobargo, NSW.

"I saw the first spot fire at 4.30am and then it was on," he said.

Several years ago the family faced tragedy when Brett and Anne Jessop's 10-year-old son Noa died after being hit by a car.

After hearing about the family and the damage to their property, late last month the farm was visited by members of St George Illawarra Dragons, including Bega Valley locals Kezie Apps and Euan Aitken, who helped out with fencing and picking up sticks strewn across the pastures by the high winds.

"It's just great to have them here, it just gives you a lift," Brett's father John Jessop said.

"You only see these fellas on TV usually.

"They're great blokes, very friendly."

Brett said the major issue facing the industry at the moment was the drought.

He had been feeding at 100 per cent before the fire and since then had kept that on track.

"You just want to see a finish to it, it's been prolonged," he said.

"Feed prices have been high for the last two years and the margins are tight.

"You just have to soak it up until things become good."

He said the fires did have an impact on the industry in general, as since the emergency began it had pushed up hay prices by $100 per tonne.

"We're in January and usually the amount of hay available, we're at the same amount of stock that's usually in June/July because we've consumed everything that's out there," he said.

"It'd be alright if it rains.

"But all the help has been unreal.

"The government, hay donations and Bega Cheese, which helped with the generators by paying the cost to hire them."

The story Farm survives drought, fire and is given a hand first appeared on Bega District News.

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