Cunderdin rallies for Rod

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

When local identity and respected farmer Rod Carter died unexpectedly in early October, a small rural town in the central Wheatbelt was in shock.

But in a true show of community spirit, locals pulled together to harvest the crop that Rod, his son Chris, and farm manager Nelson Wilkins, sowed back in autumn.

More than 30 local farmers brought headers, chaser bins and trucks to Mr Carter's property south of Cunderdin to harvest the remaining 1200ha of Arrino, Carnamah and Magenta wheat.

According to neighbour and community harvest organiser John Smart, the Carters had been overwhelmed by offers of assistance.

In fact, Mr Smart said he ended up turning people away.

"People have been ringing up to help us out, and we are knocking people back," he said.

"It was just getting to the stage of being too big that it was overwhelming.

"With the response we've had and the huge amount of support and machinery involved, we'll get through this 1200 in just a couple of days."

Mr Smart said the response to the call for help was a testament to the spirit of the local community, and the level of respect for Mr Carter, who was Shire president at the time of his death.

"Rod was a really good neighbour, we used to have a chat over the fence, he was one of those people you could always talk to," he said.

"He was involved in so many parts of the community and he had some involvement with almost everybody here throughout his life, so everyone really wanted to help out.

"But also country towns are like this, people just generally get stuck in and help out, that's what makes these places so great.

"If the tables were turned, Rod would have been the first one to pitch in and help."

Mr Wilkins, who has been with the family business for 43 years, said this was his first harvest on the property without Rod.

"Today's turnout has been pretty special really, we'll knock over the 1200ha in just two days," Mr Wilkins said.

"I'll have a few bits and pieces to tidy up after today but, apart from that, we'll be completely finished harvest."

Mr Carter's son Chris, who also worked the harvest for the first time without his father, admitted to feeling overcome when he returned home from a trip to the wheat bin to see nine harvesters in his paddock.

"To see all those harvesters taking off your crop, well words can't describe how gratifying that is. Dad would have been over the moon with the turnout," he said.

According to Mr Carter's wife Wendy, the support at community harvest was the very reason her husband had loved living in the small Wheatbelt town.

"Its such an amazing gift when people are so willing to give their time to help out others," she said.

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