Bash Stories

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On the Road with our Bash entrants

Ever wondered what it’s like on the Variety Bash?

It’s a journey of a lifetime!

Our Bashers share their stories won how they got involved, how they fundraise,
the friendships they’ve made and what it’s like on the road!

What is your best advice for the Variety Bash?

The Car Sales crew from Car 6 say: “Ask others who have done the Bash for tips. Attend as many briefing sessions as you can and ask lots of questions. On the Bash, if you see other Bash people stopped on the side of the road, pull over and introduce yourself – that’s mostly the reason they’ve pulled over!".

We love our fun stops!

Car 105 tells us their Bash story

How did you get involved with the Variety Bash?

Although the crew in Car 105 this year was a Rookie Crew, the car had participated last year with an alternative team of 4. It was through this team that we became involved.  One of the previous team members, Paul purchased his own Bash Car, and the other members were unavailable to attend again.  A new crew was formed that included staff members and clients, which proved a great success. The attendance to remote schools really interested us along with the opportunity to be involved in a week of good times with a great collection of people.

How did you fundraise throughout the year?

We were fortunate enough to have a large number of clients support the cause along with many suppliers. Our fundraising was really only undertaken in the last 2 months. This year it will be more concerted, thought out process.

What was the highlight of the event?

Without a doubt the scenery! Some of the areas we went were amazing, in particular, the track out of Flinders Ranges.

What’s your advice for anyone who has ever thought they would like to go to the Variety Bash?

Just do it!  Get a few mates together and make it happen. I also believe that anyone concerned about the length of time should consider half trips, with replacement crew members. We will be doing this next year. Perhaps accommodating this in the trip planning would be advantageous and also make it very clear to participants that this is acceptable and even encouraged to get more participants.

Variety Bash – Adam’s Journey

The Variety Bash is not a race or a rally. It’s an adventure with mates driving pre-1976 cars through regional parts of Australia that you might otherwise not see, all in support of Variety – the Children’s Charity.

Throughout the Bash, participants visit local towns, stopping into schools and organisations to visit the kids. Bashers get to see the direct impact of their fundraising efforts along the way, with a range of educational, health and mobility equipment provided to local schools and organisations en-route.

Adam from Car 123 shares his journey through the heart of Australia on his first ever Bash!

Day 1 – Better late than never!!

Apologies for the delayed start to this most exciting of travel blogs.

A day that started, for me at least, at an unreasonably early 3:30 am in Geelong, ended finally at 10:30 pm in Mildura. As a Variety Bash ‘rookie’, and captain of an all-rookie team, there was certainly a lot to take in. Coffee at Queen Vic Market, coffee at the Malmsbury Bakery, coffee … well you get the picture. 

After settling into a rhythm with the car, and as a team, all while making sense of the supplied route notes, we soon found ourselves effectively miles away from the mundane. It’s amazing what a tailor-made safari suit, somewhat questionable scarf, and Akubra hat can do for your state of mind. A lunch stop in Birchip saw us fuelled up and ready to soldier on to Mildura, via the Hattah / Kulkyne National Park. Quite the baptism for this rookie crew of Car 123 – Daktari Devil.

Day 2 – Mildura to Wilpena Pound

We had a big (645km) day yesterday, making our way from Mildura, all the way to Wilpena Pound in the magical Flinders Ranges.

With the morning briefing out of the way, and a hearty breakfast to fuel us (thanks Lions Club) and adequate coffee consumption sorted, we were on our way. A scenic route took us to the Overland Corner Hotel for a ‘Fun Stop’ before heading off to Burra for our scheduled lunch check-in, where a thoroughly warming cup of Thai pumpkin soup and a salad roll energised us for the final push into the Flinders Ranges. A fantastic buffet dinner at the Wilpena Pound restaurant saw us crawling into our swags tired, but content after a solid day on the road.

Day 3 – Welcome to the jungle

What a day!

Up early… Coffee IV anyone? Cars were on stands, mechanics were fiddling, and all before we even left Wilpena Pound! Into Bunyeroo and crossing Brachina Gorge, it wasn’t long before we saw the first casualty of the day (the vehicular kind, of course!). The monstrous F100, packing the largest engine on the Bash – 516cu for those that care – died a horrible death on the black top, just short of Leigh Creek. In a showing of true Bash resourcefulness, a suitable replacement was found and procured a few towns further on, and the crew of Car# 1975 were back on their way – albeit with a slightly smaller engine. By the time we arrived at Marree, it was time to take the shirts off and cool down. It was a long way from the bitter -1 degree start of that morning in Wilpena Pound. After a quick fuel top-up, we headed off down the Oodnadatta Track. As we approached Andamooka, we saw a black spec on the horizon… could it be that the ‘Bat-Mobile’ with Gotham’s greatest on board, was in trouble? As it turns out, the Bat-mobile WAS in trouble… serious trouble. While assessing the damage, Batman saw a snake and ‘THWACK-O’, deployed his trusty grappling hook to hoist himself atop the stranded Bat-mobile. Meanwhile back on the ground….

Robin and The Joker poked fun at Batman for his terrible re-enactment of a movie scene made famous in ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’. Coward Springs was a welcome cool off, and then we began the long 200km push into Coober Pedy. We couldn’t possibly drive past without a quick stop at the William Creek Pub! Everyone else had the same idea: Break up the drive, and stay alive.

Day 4 – Coober Pedy to Erldunda

It was a mixed day today.

And by mixed I mean a combination of driving along the bottom of a 400 million year old inland sea, across the Painted Desert, and finally cruising the into the bustling hub of Erldunda via the 130km/h Stuart Highway. It wasn’t more than a minute before we made our first navigational error of the day. Valuable time wasted. Later that morning, we were able to lend some technical tyre changing assistance to some stranded fellow bashers and shortly after, we stumbled upon a broken down Mercedes 420SEL. We really were in the middle of nowhere. With the collective assistance of those passing by, the crew managed to fix the driver-inflicted damage using a block of timber, the end of a tow ball, and some good old fashioned bush mechanic know-how.

Lunch in Marla was a timely stop, even though it was nearly 2pm by the time we managed to arrive. The Stuart Hwy took us for a leisurely afternoon drive in to Erldunda. There was absolutely no chance of our little Daktari Devil breaking the 130km speed limit up here in NT.

Day 5 – Erldunda to Kings Canyon

Easy days!

An easy 270 km drive saw us checked-in just after lunch, leaving plenty of time to explore King’s Canyon. A long way from anywhere, and with no 4G coverage, it is absolutely serene, except for the Helicopters chopping above, and the people congregating at the entrance to the King’s Canyon Walking tracks in order to use the NT Government provided free Wi-Fi. Once over the initially steep climb, it becomes evident that this natural wonder is truly spectacular.

The Kings Canyon Resort was a wonderful place to kick back and relax. The food was great, as were the facilities. I will definitely be back some other time.

Day 6 – Kings Canyon to Alice Springs

Today’s route proved to be rather deceptive…

On paper, a 330km drive from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs would seem a breeze, but the 180km run on Larapinta Drive up to Hermannsburg is one of the roughest roads around. In places, a top of speed of 60km/h was all that we could manage. It didn’t take long at all for wheels, bullbars, steering arms and other items, to start rattling off of all sorts of cars. In a scene reminiscent of a Blues Brothers movie, our light bar fell onto the windscreen just as we pulled into Hermannsburg. All that the roughest road in the outback could do to team Daktari was wiggle one bolt loose… Impressive.

A steak and some organic port helped finish off a big day on the Bash!

Day 7 – Alice Springs Lay Day

We enjoyed a well-earned rest today.

Many Variety Bash entrants had repairs carried out on their cars by the Mobile Workshop crews. Others were enjoying a sleep in and a leisurely morning. We found coffee… and then some more coffee. After only minutes of searching, we were fortunate enough to find just the right bolt to replace the one we had lost the day before on the world’s roughest road – big day. A hearty evening meal on the local rugby field was followed by a charity auction and a game of Olympic trivia. Quite an enjoyable rest stop.

Tomorrow, we are off to Tennant Creek!

Day 8 – Alice Springs to Tennant Creek

Back on the big days today. Time to munch up some miles.

510km of black top cruising wasn’t without some fun along the way. Stops at the Aileron Roadhouse, Barrow Creek Hotel and Devil’s Marbles were a great opportunity to ‘chew the fat’ with fellow bashers and catch up on some hot gossip from adventures (or perhaps misadventures) in Alice Springs. The Tennant Creek Talent Contest at the local showgrounds proved a big hit before we retired for an early night, dreaming about the 680km journey ahead.

Day 9 – Tennant Creek to Katherine

Wow… How many kilometres can one little 1982 Mercedes travel in one day?

The answer to that question can’t possibly be much more than 680. It is curious what countless hours on the highway will do to the fabric of a Variety Bash team…. Betrayal, irritation, petty nit-picking… We had the lot. It took a soothing swim at Bitter Springs, just near Mataranka, to trigger a reset and regroup.

Team Daktari vowed not succumb to the negative and we pressed on. (Not before capturing video evidence of a particular team member snoring in the back seat first). The first of the properly hot days meant some crews didn’t reach our scheduled dinner until very late in the evening. Nevertheless, the end is nigh.

Day 10 – Katherine to Darwin

Here we go travellers – the final push into Darwin!

We had it on good authority we should pay a visit to Edith Falls – a short way north of Katherine. Without a doubt it was the best way to begin such a momentous day. Edith Falls was definitely a personal highlight of the trip. True to form, Variety saved the ‘best for last’ in the form of 12km of the some of the worst roads in the Territory. Easily as bad as the Larapinta Way, thankfully nowhere near as long. A final procession into the Mindil Beach markets capped off a spectacular journey, and for Team Daktari Devil, a special sense of achievement in our total distance of 4,985km, starting at Bass Strait and finishing at the edge of the Timor Sea. What a trip! Can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Car 123 – Team Daktari Devil.