Penrith Panthers players Kaide Ellis (left) and Isaah Yeo at the announcement of the Panthers' $200,000 donation to The Big Dry Drought Appeal. Picture: Penrith Panthers
Penrith Panthers players Kaide Ellis (left) and Isaah Yeo at the announcement of the Panthers' $200,000 donation to The Big Dry Drought Appeal. Picture: Penrith Panthers

Farmers on verge of ‘hitting rock bottom’

ISAAH Yeo has first hand knowledge just how tough people are doing in drought-ravaged country Australia.

The Dubbo-raised Yeo has found a home at the Penrith Panthers but has family spread across the countryside.

His parents Justin and Amy are settled on a "hobby-farm" in Mudgee while his wider family are reliant on the land for their livelihood in Carinda - a town of just 200 people about four and a half hours north of Mudgee.

Penrith Panthers players Kaide Ellis (left) and Isaah Yeo at the announcement of the Panthers' $200,000 donation to The Big Dry Drought Appeal. Picture: Penrith Panthers
Penrith Panthers players Kaide Ellis (left) and Isaah Yeo at the announcement of the Panthers' $200,000 donation to The Big Dry Drought Appeal. Picture: Penrith Panthers

"The cows and the sheep are passing away or they have to be put down," Yeo said. "It is very tough. When you have to lay out money with no return it keeps compounding. Unfortunately you can see how people get in that bad head space.

"I have an uncle whose majority of income is in farming. They are the ones doing it the toughest.

"They are relying on rain. They are having to layout their money on the feed.

"You can't keep doing that because eventually they money dries up. For the time being they are able to keep doing that as we cross our fingers for a nice big rainfall sometime soon."

Yeo has a farming background having grown up in
Yeo has a farming background having grown up in

Yeo said his family had rallied around his relatives but there is little that can be done until rain hits.

"As far as I know and they tell me they are keeping well, upbeat and positive," Yeo said. "You can see people get into a bad headspace and you can totally understand it.

"They are keeping positive and waiting for the rain. I know a lot of people and family friends are relying on rain by the end of September.

Yeo’s family have been directly impacted by the Australia-wide drought.
Yeo’s family have been directly impacted by the Australia-wide drought.

"It is their livelihood, their life and their total income. They are the ones who get up at 5am to muster the sheep and cattle. They've nearly hit rock bottom and they are in some trouble

"My uncle's cattle are dropping (dead). He has lost a lot of calves. They haven't put any down themselves yet which is a good thing but that's when it gets to pretty much rock bottom.

"They understand eventually it will turn it's just a matter of when and if they can keep outlaying money until then."

Penrith Panthers representatives Greg Alexander, Kaide Ellis and Brian Fletcher with Rural Aid CEO and Buy A Bale founder Charles Alder. Picture: Penrith Panthers
Penrith Panthers representatives Greg Alexander, Kaide Ellis and Brian Fletcher with Rural Aid CEO and Buy A Bale founder Charles Alder. Picture: Penrith Panthers


Yeo's Penrith club this week donated $200,000 to The Big Dry Drought Appeal. While the 23-year-old back-rower - who will feature for the Panthers against Canberra today - still has plenty of time left in the NRL, he has plans to return to the bush once his playing career is over.

"I get to Mudgee whenever I can." Yeo said. "I love it out there. I'll get to Carinda in the off-season this year. My goal is heading back to Mudgee or Dubbo (when I retire).

"I'd like to think I'll have a full-time job and have the farm. I love being out in the farm. It's a while away yet but it will be nice to get back there.

"You can get caught in the bubble we've got going on here (in the NRL). It does put it into perspective. We're lucky with what we've got here."