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    SPIRITED FUNDRAISERS: Wimmera 2019 Variety Bash drivers, from left, ACE Radio Horsham station general manager Brendan O’Loughlin, Mark Ballinger, Brendan Netherway, Rick Smith, Brendan Khan and Alan Perry started an 11-day motoring trek across Australia yesterday. Picture: LOTTE REITER

Motoring trios en route for Variety Bash

BY Lotte Reiter

There are probably many reasons why someone would buckle themselves into a 30-plus-year-old vehicle and motor across thousands of kilometres of Australian terrain. 

For a contingent of Wimmera go-getters, the journey is part of an annual fundraising effort helping to brighten the lives of Australian children and their families.

The 2019 Variety Bash, Australia’s largest and longest-running charity motoring event, officially started in Melbourne yesterday.

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The 11-day campaign, finishing on August 30 in Geraldton, Western Australia, is an event with a reputation across the nation for its fun and frivolity, and millions of dollars raised for children’s charity Variety.

ACE Radio Broadcasters, including The Weekly Advertiser and radio stations 3WM and MIXX FM, is a major supporter of Variety and is backing  Wimmera teams taking the trek.

ACE Radio Horsham station general manager Brendan O’Loughlin, in his fourth year participating in the Variety Bash, has strapped himself in for the ride in car 1494. He will join ACE Radio network chief executive Mark Taylor and ACE Radio host Jon Vertigan.

Other Horsham cars include 113, seating Brendan Khan, Rick Smith and Alan Perry, and 303, featuring Mark and David Ballinger and Brendan Netherway.

Together, the three teams have raised about $60,000 this year, achieved through various fundraising efforts across Horsham district.

Their donation will help Variety continue to provide vital services and equipment for children living with a disability, facing sickness or experiencing disadvantage. 

Mr Khan said when he first participated in Variety Bash about six years ago, his team raised about $7000. 

This year, they have contributed more than $20,000.

“I’ve always been a charity type of person,” he said.

“My family has always supported children in unfortunate circumstances and the Variety Bash is all about fundraising for those children in need. 

“The bash comes around quickly, but we’re doing more and more each year. We have a regular fundraiser event at the Railway Hotel in Murtoa where we raise about $5000.

“It gives you a really good feeling to put smiles on faces.”

Making a difference

The Variety Bash is more than a scenic drive with mates through some of Australia’s greatest regional and remote landscapes. 

It is also a chance for teams to see first-hand the effects of their fundraising, with participants visiting communities and providing a range of much-needed equipment to schools and organisations along the way.

Mr O’Loughlin said many cars would have toys and presents for children to bring ‘extra excitement and joy’ to communities.

“The Variety Bash is a lot of fun for people participating. But more importantly, its focus is on helping children in need, so we distribute money into the community as we go,” he said.

“We also have 245 bubble wands in our car that we’ll hand out. The plan is to leave a trail of bubbles behind us and cover the Nullarbor.”

Variety Bash drivers and crews will leave Warrnambool today to travel to Hahndorf, before making pit-stops in Whyalla, Ceduna, Madura, Kalgoorlie, Leonora, Mt Magnet and Geraldton.

The campaign, different each year, is a pre-determined route notorious for its off-track exploration.

Mr O’Loughlin said there was plenty of upkeep work for the restored or modified cars involved to allow the vehicles to cope with ‘back tracks’, often featuring unsealed and muddy roads and the odd bump or two.

“The cars are required to be more than 30 years old, so there’s a lot of maintenance work involved. They need to be built to be able to cope with creek crossings and rough roads,” he said.

“More than 90 cars were involved in the Variety Bash last year, and we helped to raise about $1.5-million. 

“Hopefully we’re able to achieve a similar amount this time around.”

People can donate to a Variety Bash car or the Variety charity online at

The entire August 21, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!