The House That Drought Built
26 May 2020
Despite recent good rains in many parts of NSW, the impact of prolonged drought is still being felt across the state.
Salvation Army rural chaplains have been working closely with drought-affected families over the years and are continuing their support as conditions ease. Providing practical and spiritual support, our rural chaplains have seen first-hand the financial and emotional toll the drought has taken and the realities of a lengthy period of recovery.
“While we have had some rainfall in the Tamworth region over recent months, the drought is far from over,” says Kelvin Stace, Salvos rural chaplain for north-west NSW.
“The dam is still very low, and it may take many good seasons in succession before the drought has lifted.”
To address some of these challenges, the people of Tamworth – one of the state’s hardest hit regions - have come together with a unique approach to assist those most severely impacted in their community.
The House That Drought Built is a fundraising initiative to build and auction off a family home, with The Salvation Army, G.J. Gardner Homes (Tamworth), Lampada Estate a McCloy Community, Tamworth Regional Council and PRDnationwide collaborating on the project.
Natalie and Daniel Urquhart, owners of G.J. Gardner Homes, Tamworth, came up with the concept after recognising the devastating impact the drought was having on their community.
Labour of love
The soil was first turned on the lot at Lampada Estate in early 2020 with the community rallying around the project. To keep costs at a minimum, overheads of the land as well as local trades, building suppliers and businesses have been contributing their own time and materials to the construction of the luxurious four-bedroom, Hamptons-style, family home.
While farmers have beared the brunt of the extended drought, the flow-on effect has been felt throughout rural townships. Many of the people of Tamworth have seen this project as an opportunity to come together and give back to the community by helping those most seriously affected.
“It’s heartening to see this resilience and optimism throughout the community … projects like The House That Drought Built play an important role in keeping farmers’ spirits high,” says Kelvin.
“Many farmers are living with the weight of considerable financial and emotional strain, seeing their community pull together to support them through this challenging time is undoubtedly uplifting.”
Building a strong community
The House That Drought Built will be auctioned in July 2020. The proceeds of the sale, hoped to be in excess of $250,000, will go to The Salvation Army Drought Relief program and distributed to the most drought-affected families in the Tamworth region.
“Funds raised as a result of the sale will help us lift some of the financial burdens being felt by many farmers and we’re incredibly grateful to the project partners and the wider community for making this possible,” says Kelvin.
But The House That Drought Built is more than just a fundraising drive. The permanent structure will become a legacy for the people of Tamworth, a reminder of how a community can come together to support their own in times of crisis.