Band Together – The Tathra Bushfire Relief Concert has raised $160,000 for families at Reedy Swamp, Vimy Ridge, and Tathra recovering from the March 18 bushfires that destroyed 65 homes.
An oversized cheque was presented to Mayor, Kristy McBain at the Jazz Festival Race Day at Sapphire Coast Turf Club, the donation taking the Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal to $1.3 million.
Just two weeks prior the space that today hosted 400 racegoers, was filled with 4,000 music lovers, revelling in the sounds of 1927, the Hoodoo Gurus, Daniel Champagne, and The Figmentz; every one of the 30 odd performers to take to the stage excelled, there was not a dud act in the 10 hour spectacular.
Darren Jones from the organising committee says it’s a great feeling.
“Apart from the concert and the financial gain, people from Tathra have been emailing and calling just expressing what the event meant to them, it was bringing the community together, it gave them something to look forward to.”
People came from Parkes, Narrandera, the Gold Coast, Canberra, and Tasmania to attend the concert; the amount of money injected into the local economy as a result is also a great source of pride for the organisers.
“My favourite part of this is all the people who stayed in Tathra that weekend, I love that bit of it,” Jess Ryan from Sapphire Coast Turf Club says.
“Tathra Beach House Appartments had 22 checkouts on the Sunday, you wouldn’t normally get that in May,” she says.
“And the Recovery Breakfast the next morning, all the cafes in Tathra were full,” Mr Jones says.
Much of the reason so much money was raised is the generosity of many – individuals and organisations.
Tathra Lions donated all the takings from the canteen, while the Turf Club threw in proceeds from the bar, not to mention donations of stage, lighting, and sound equipment from the likes of Stage Kings and Green Room.
“We’d be here for an hour if I had to name everyone, it’s been amazing, thank you,” Mr Jones says.
“I’ve made lifelong friendships out of this, it’s one of the bonuses.”
Volunteer Coordinator, Chris Nicholls says a team of around 35 volunteers worked morning, noon, and night, and can take credit for such an impressive fundraising total.
“There were a couple of volunteers who worked for two days solid before the concert, and they were so exhausted they didn’t actually make it to the concert,” Mr Nicholls laughs.
“It was an amazing experience all round, everybody equal, everybody gave heart and soul.”
Between them, Darren, Jess, and Chris saw very little of the concert itself, a few stolen moments with the Hoodoo Gurus backstage, was just reward for their superhuman effort.
The money raised will be distributed through the Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal which has already started allocating funds to people whose homes were destroyed.
“Stage one is well underway, we have already distributed money to 51 different households,” Cr McBain says.
“The unbelievable generosity that has come from right across the country has us in a position to provide this assistance, and the Band Together concert a brilliant example of this.
“Businesses big and small, service clubs, sporting groups, local Councils, schools and individuals are among those who have contributed so selflessly and we couldn’t be more thankful,” Cr Mc Bain says.
The Mayor says the money being handed out now is just the start, and that the fund will stay open for at least two years in order to meet the changing needs of the bushfire community.
With future fundraising needed I ask Darren Jones, “Will there be a Band Together 2?”
Shifting nervously on his feet as he considers his answer, Darren looks to Jess and Chris for reassurance.
“Yes this will happen again, Band Together 2 and we’ll make sure its a lot bloody warmer,” he laughs.
“The cold was a small price to pay compared to some of what these families have been through.”
Band Together merchandise is still available from the event’s website at reduced prices.
Donations to the Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal can be done three ways:
- Electronic bank transfer – BSB:012525 Account: 837535154, for international donations, the ANZ swift code is ANZBAU3M;
- In person, at ANZ Bega;
- Credit Card over the phone, call (02) 6499 2345 during office hours.
Absent from the cheque presentation was Peter Whiter – Band Together video and photo coordinator.
*This article first appeared on RiotACT