Yeppoon man takes time off work to help fire victims
YEPPOON man Jamie Wootton was sheltering himself from a dust storm that was spinning through a property at Quaama in New South Wales on Thursday morning.
Putting down his tools and hanging up his weatherworn hat for a brief moment of rest, he took a moment to share why he was so far from home and why it was so important he was there.
Mr Wootton, an agricultural contractor who drives cattle at stations around Banana, took off two weeks from work and headed down to his brother’s town on Monday to lend a hand to those affected by the New Year’s bushfires.
“My brother’s place is fine but there are plenty of other people whose homes aren’t,” he said.
“I took some time off work and decided to give them a hand.”
Mr Wootton has been putting his agricultural experience to good use – helping to build parameters, keeping stock within paddocks and volunteering as a fencer around the fire-affected community.
“I’m also moving a few cattle around to places that are not burnt out,” he said.
“There’s heaps of fencing to do down here. (I’m) cleaning up and putting in new fence lines.”
Mr Wootton has lost track of how much he has actually done, putting in long hours each day and helping out where he can.
At the moment, he has been helping a man who owns a large dairy, but notes that the daylight savings are a “bit weird” to get used to.
“The people are beautiful down here,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful country. Everyone is coming together and helping each other out.
“There is a lot of army around as well.”
Fellow volunteer Taz Partridge, from New South Wales, praised Mr Wootton on Facebook on Monday afternoon.
“How good is this bloke,” Mr Patridge said.
“Drove 21 hours from Queensland and here as a volunteer fencer.”
Mr Wootton said he and Mr Partridge had also been working together and with a few other volunteers, all eager to help out where they can.
“He was great to work with. There are a few other people helping out too, it’s good to see,” he said.
Many have lost their homes, but there is still a long way to go before the community begins the rebuilding stage.
“People are doing what they can but it’s still tough times at the moment,” Mr Wootton said.
“There are many things we take for granted. It’s still pretty tough for them.
“What I’m doing is really a drop in the ocean compared to what has to happen, but if everyone could do something it would make a huge difference.
“Not everyone can. I’m lucky to have the flexibility to get time off work to give a hand. Not everyone is as lucky but I'm sure plenty of people want to help.”
Mr Wootton encouraged anyone who can, to head down and help out.