On the journey from northern Victoria into western New South Wales, the landscape changes.
The bitumen turns to dirt; sandy in parts, corrugated in others.
The ground is mostly bare apart from bits of bluebush among the red soil.
And the livestock are hungry.
For Dennis Walker, who has been carting hay across Victoria and New South Wales for 30 years, he's never seen conditions like this.
"Sure they have dry spells, but this has gone on forever," he said.
"And as a small child coming up here fishing with my father and travelling around up here in later years as well … this has just got progressively worse.
"It's a very depressing scene. Sheep dying that are straight off-shears and yeah, the cattle are walking bags of bones. It's pretty dire out here."
This year, for the first time ever, he's run out of hay.
The lack of rain means this year's carting season has been cut short.
"This is the last of it, the last load," the 70-year-old said.
It's bound for Barraroo Station in western New South Wales, between Menindee and Wilcannia.
For Dennis and his wife Judy, who has been travelling with him on these hay runs for a decade, this trip is an emotional one.
"I just think how desolate and how tough these guys are doing it," Dennis said.
"It just shows you how desperate people are to keep their core breeding stock alive and anything we can do to make that happen, well, so be it."
In one paddock, newly shorn sheep pick at what's left of the last lot of hay thrown to them. Dead ones lie where they've fallen.
A large group of kangaroos sits in another paddock, barely moving as Dennis's truck drives by. One lone roo digs desperately in the sand, intent on finding any seeds to chew.
On the same stretch of fence line a dingo hangs dead, a hawk circling above.
It's too much for Judy, who loves her animals.
"Breaks my heart," she said, her eyes welling with tears. She pauses, letting them run down her cheek.
The image of the sheep is haunting.
"[We've] just come past some sheep that have been off-shears. They're just dying in the paddock," Judy said.
"No cover to get behind. It's quite sad … Even the kangaroos and the emus, they don't move as quick as they used to."
'Absolute dire straits' for graziers
Dennis and Judy have previously delivered to properties around Ivanhoe and Balranald in western NSW, but until this year, never as far north as Barraroo Station.
It's the fourth trip Dennis has made to the outback property owned by Craig Morton and his son Todd, who have been forced to look further and further afield for hay.
Dennis explains that usually half the hay baled during a season would be used, leaving half for the following year.
But this year, the whole lot's gone, including any leftover from 2016.
"[It's] dire. Dire straits," he said when asked what that meant for graziers. "Absolute dire straits."
The one-time cattleman knows exactly what they're going through.
While softly spoken, Dennis is clearly rattled by what farmers and graziers are facing, and the decisions they're having to make.
"I shudder for even the thought. I absolutely shudder. They're in … absolute diabolical dire straits," he said.
'It's like hen's teeth now, you can't find anymore hay'
When they pull into the Morton family's property, the pair have been on the road for more than 24 hours.
This truckload has cost about $9,000 for the barley hay and freight. B-doubles deliver loads worth about $15,000, depending on the quality of the hay.
The Mortons haven't had decent rain since December last year. Craig Morton said the 2002 drought was bad — but this one was worse.
"The country is really buggered, it really is. It's really dried right out," he said.
Dennis walks over, shakes Craig's hand and complains about the road.
Craig offers little sympathy, saying he knows — he lives here and has to drive it all the time.
The Mortons cook breakfast: bacon, eggs, sausages, baked beans, steak and toast with coffee.
They talk about the Government, Barnaby Joyce, how different politicians and generations have wrecked the Darling, and, of course, rain — when it might come.
Craig's deadline is September — that's when he reckons his feed will run out.
"It's just about like hen's teeth now, you can't find anymore hay. When it runs out, I'm not quite sure what to do," he said.
'It's nearly dry enough to fart dust'
Craig has searched Victoria and South Australia looking for hay. From top quality initially, now he'll take whatever he can get — "we're down to rubbish".
He's sold all but a handful of cattle and most of his sheep, just keeping core breeders.
But Craig Morton is not one for talking about how the pressures affect him or his son.
"What is there to talk about? It's dry. Nearly dry enough to fart dust," he said.
"You know it's going to rain but can you get to it? That's the thing.
"Always rains at the end of the drought but sometimes it tests you right out, and this one's probably testing things out a bit now."
Craig's son Todd thinks his old man is more stressed than he lets on. Todd feels it too.
"We're graziers and … we all grow up to care for animals," he said.
"The stress of going out and seeing your stock die and that, because it plays on anyone I suppose. You don't want them to die. You put a lot of effort into keeping them alive."
Slowing down, but not retiring
Judy is back in the truck and Dennis gives Craig a final handshake before jumping back into the driver's seat for the long road home.
With no more hay left to deliver this season, he could well look forward to some time off.
But not for Dennis Walker.
"I've got plenty to do. I've got balers to service at home, rice straw to bale … lots of work at home," he explained.
He's sold a couple of his balers and is looking forward to slowing down a bit, to fit in some more travel — but he has no plans to retire.
"You're only as young as you feel. I feel okay. Got my wife for company, the truck just rolls along.
"The truck's a little bit like me, a little bit ancient, it goes along okay."
The brake lights disappear, the truck rolls forward, curving around the dirt road leading away from Barraroo homestead.
With a blast of the horn, and in a cloud of dust, they're gone.ABC