Day 1 – Emerald to Blackall
Here we go
again for the eighth year of bashing. After the full year of
fundraising and preparing OV FIRE for its eighth assault on the
unforgiving roads we travel (use this word “road” lightly) OV FIREs
team is all packed ready for the challenge ahead. The start of the
Bash this year is in Emerald and to get there, the team had a very
early start from Brisbane. The trip up to Emerald was uneventful and
our Virgin Basher Adam, found out early, never fall asleep in OV FIRE.
We arrived safe in Emerald that afternoon.
was a great time to catch up with Bash friends that we haven’t seen
for a year and at the official dinner held by Variety you basically
meet the whole Bash field. Also Variety conducted some appeals to the
local community and one of them was to a little disadvantaged girl
that lost her horse, which was really used as a learning tool for her.
Variety presented her with a new horse/pony and she was so excited.
These appeals shows the Bashers why their fundraising is so important
and how it can help those in need.
early start for the first day of the Bash. Emerald closed off the main
street for us and we had breakfast at the local Subway store. Everyone
was in costume and I am thinking some may actually just dress this
way normally...lol. To see all the great effort the Bashers puts
into their cars for the Bash in one spot is truly amazing. A lot of
locals were wondering around and they also were having a great time
looking and laughing at what was happening in their town. Once we were
across the start line we knew we had started this Bash and now had to
concentrate on the route instructions so we don’t get lost (good luck
had an official duty to do today but that was not until after lunch so
we could follow the field and leave early at lunch. One of the first
obstacles we came across was a farmer whose property we were
travelling through made a mud hole for the Bash. He was an old Basher
from the past and knew we would have fun in the mud. Once you got
through the mud the farmer was hidden around the corner waiting with a
pump and water and wetting everyone, even us. Bad move on his part. OV
FIRE “HAD” to stop and show him how much water pressure we had to his
garden hose pressure. He now knows firsthand and lucky for him it was
a warm day.
take long for the scenery to change to a very dry country. Travelled
through Springsure to our first stop at Tambo State School. The School
provided all the Bashers lunch and was presented a much needed trailer
by Variety. We had to leave early from lunch to get to our official
duty, to carry out the last checkpoint of the day.
set up our checkpoint, we had time to play and have afternoon cheese
and biscuits (with refreshments) thanks to Graham. Once all the cars
had past our checkpoint it was getting late but luckily it was a quick
drive to Blackall to finish the day/night.
Day 2 – Blackall to Stonehenge
in the morning the local paper and media of Blackall wanted a photo of
us all. It was a bit chilly but warmed up pretty quick.
couldn’t do the first part of the Bash route as it wasn’t friendly to
heavy vehicles. We had another afternoon checkpoint to do and the only
way to get to our checkpoint was to go direct by road through
Barcaldine. We had plenty of time so we had lunch at Barcaldine and
took in the local sights (Tree of Knowledge),then headed to our
checkpoint. We were there in plenty of time and the Variety Office
girls came with us to spend the day, (Erin 1, Erin 3 and knock knock
knock Penny, knock knock knock Penny, knock knock knock Penny) as they
had to go direct as well.
to us by the Bash Director to slow the front of the Bash field down,
as they were well in front of time. So we came up with getting the
people out of the cars and they had to kick a football between some
witches hats to proceed further. It was interesting to see how
competitive some were to get that ball through the gap. Some tried
quite a few times. It also was very tiring for some and needed a Nanna
checkpoint went on til late in the afternoon and we still had 150km to
go to get to our overnight stop. On our way we came across some tanks
being transported to who knows where but they took up a far bit of the
road and it was very exciting passing them, NOT!!!
finally got to our overnight stop at Stonehenge, it was dark and a
street party was happening. They closed off the only road into and out
of Stonehenge, but what I could make out it was just blocking off a
town hall and a pub and that was pretty much the town. They mustn’t
get much night traffic through here? All the local children were out
and about collecting things off the Bashers like toys, lollies and
stickers. Our Virgin Basher Adam, jumped straight into action and was
out there giving out the stuff we had. Well done Adam.
– Stonehenge to Winton
another real early day for OV FIRE, we had to get up in the dark, pack
our camp up and be on the road before anyone else was up. Our official
duty today was at place called Lark Quarry, which was over 250km away
and on the Bash route (no direct way to go). Our duty was to control
the parking at the Lark Quarry for the Bashers (about 135 cars) and
the members of the public in a reasonably small car park. It was going
to be easy assignment.
out of Stonehenge there was a number of other OVs that had to leave at
this time and one of them was what we call the Scout. The Scout is the
first vehicle on the Bash route each day and checks that the route is
still ok for the whole field to use. The Scout has done this bash
route a few times now. He is one of the people that first make the
bash route with Variety and knows where he is going. Today was the
first time our Virgin Adam was navigating. Not even one kilometre out
of town, all the cars in front turned left, Adam yelled, “they are
going the wrong way, we don’t turn left until 5km mark”. He was
ADAMant (ha ha) he was right and we were adamant the scout knew
where he was going. Finally Adam realised he had the PM (afternoon)
run sheet instead of the AM (morning) run sheet. Lucky we were not on
our own or we could of been anywhere in Queensland with his
navigating. All part of Bashing.
there, had to be one of the dustiest roads we have been on for some
time and there was no wind to blow it away. We were following a few
other cars that had to leave early and it was slow going. With the
dust and no wind, the dust just lingered for sooo long and it was very
difficult to see where we were going.
got to where we had to be and it was the Lark Quarry Conservation Park
Dinosaur Stampede which happen about 95 million years ago. We were
there early enough and the staff let us have a look inside without
doing the tour. It was something we had never seen before. What was
interesting was the story from our personal guide that said they
followed and traced the path of all the footprints and some footprints
just stopped. That was because the larger meat eating Dinosaur picked
them up and ate them as they were stampeding.
It was an
early finish in Winton and had time to relax and have a few drinks
Day 4 – Winton to Boulia
official duties today and I was asked if I could drive the Variety
office girls around while they could rest. It is very tiring for these
girls on the Bash as they are always doing something for someone with
over four hundred people always wanting something at any time of day
or night. We did the whole bash route and kept crossing paths with OV
had a visitor for the day and that was Trish the Variety photographer.
Trish is a regular visitor, always comes with us for one day each
a big day and there was so much to see and when there was nothing to
see (flat plain lands) it was still so amazing and beautiful, shows
you how big and different the country really is. One thing was the
ruins of an old pub called Mayne Hotel out in the middle of nowhere
and it was used as an overnight stop for the Cobb&Co Coaches, horse
show you how tough you would have to be to live out here or how you
could perish if you don’t know where to get water and where lost.
Lucky Lawrence found a knock knock knock Penny, knock knock knock
Penny, knock knock knock Penny fairy out in the desert. She can save
lunch stop beside the Diamantina River, one of the Bashers made 9
Phantom costumes. She asked for volunteers to wear them for the rest
of the day and night. Yep you guessed it, our Virgin
arrived in Boulia, we stopped in at the local pub and expecting other
bashers and Phantoms to be already in there, Adam flung the doors open
in his Phantom outfit and said “I’m here”. At that time, there was
only the locals in there and the whole pub went quiet and looked at
Adam. I don’t think they knew quite what to say. It wasn’t long until
others arrived and the joint went crazy.
walking back to our accommodation, the night sky was just “WOW”. The
sky was so clear and the stars were indescribable. Another beautiful
part of Australia.
Day 5 – Boulia to Mt Isa
day where OV FIRE didn’t have any official duties to perform and the
Variety Office girls liked being chauffeured around the day before, so
they asked if one of us could do it again for them. This time Lawrence
again was through some magnificent country and we arrived at a town
named Duchess for lunch. The population of Duchess is three, yes that
is correct, three (not a typo), so you can imagine when over four
hundred arrive for lunch. Lucky the surrounding community all chips in
to help. All the local children came over to see the Fire Truck and
loved it. These children were so well mannered and a pleasure to talk
On the way
to lunch we could see in the distance this huge white coloured
mountain. None of us could make out what it was but it looked out of
place in this area. We found out it was Phosphate and that’s the way
it naturally is.
three hundred kilometre mark of the Bash route, Variety had a tribute
to 3 old time bashers that sadly past away this year. Why the 3
hundred kilometre mark, that is because Paddy (the first to pass away)
always said a day on the Bash should be no longer than 3 hundred
kilometre days. We have been known to do 8, 9 hundred plus kilometres
a day to get around this vast state of Queensland.
arrived in Mt Isa, the party had already started for the town and the
famous Rodeo. Variety was asked if the Bash cars could be part of the
opening parade. This was not a problem for all the Bashers, they love
the attention. The parade was great to be a part of and there was so
many people cheering and waving. Blazer was a big hit.
finished the parade, it was off to our accommodation for the next two
days, Mt Isa Fire Station.
Day 6 – Day off
what is called a Lay Day. This is where you can do what you want. Go
to the rodeo, fix your car, relax, see the sights of Mt Isa or if
you’re really keen (stupid more like it), you can catch up on your
Rodeo, Variety done an appeal in front of a large crowd and gave a
much needed all terrane wheel chair away.
Day 7 – Mt Isa to Normanton
thanks to the Fire Crews from Mt Isa station that allowed us to stay
at their station and for looking after our needs.
another early start, but this was just for breakfast. The only duty we
had was to do a breathalyser test of the bashers at the start line.
This is a great initiative of Variety and there is a zero tolerance on
drink driving. No one even went close to be over the limit.
start, the Variety clown or Gladdie the bowling lady was on her own
today as his/her partner went in another car. He/she asked if one of
us would like to go for the day. Adam volunteered for this one and it
would be good for him to see how the Bashers do it.
heading for the Gulf country and the roads were not good. A lot of
Bash cars were breaking down along this stretch of rough road and even
the old girl, OV FIRE. We lost a park brake chamber (very important
part) which in turn brought the park brake on and overheated the
brakes on one side of the truck. We temporarily repaired OV FIRE
enough to get to the next town. Also the heat of the brakes blow out a
tyre and this is the first time in 8 years of Bashing we have changed
OV FIRE into the next place, The Burke and Wills Road House with not
much braking efficiently (no brakes). Here with the help of others, we
repaired OV FIRE enough to get brakes back and to continue on our way
to the night stop, Normanton.
the time lost on the repairs, we still got in early enough to have a
look around. Found an exact replica of a huge crocodile found in this
area. We’re not going anywhere near the water up here, so the pub will
have to do.
the locals put on a great show for all of us. Wrangling calves. Again
they asked for volunteers for anyone that wanted to give it a go. Up
goes Adams hand. Before they showed us how it was done, the volunteers
went out to the centre of the ring and there was about 40 volunteers.
They had to pair up for the wrangling. Then the experts showed what
needed to be done. You physically had to wrestle the calf onto the
ground and the other person had to pull its tail to bring the rear
down and then hold the calves leg so it couldn’t move. They weren’t
small calves either. Once the experts did it and they were 6’4”
cowboys and very fit, the 40 volunteers went down to about 20 very
admit it was funny to watch the Bash volunteers trying to do it and
then it was Adam and his partners turn. Adam had the head end and he
did well to get the calf on the ground but his partner didn’t have the
time to grab the tail and leg to stop the calf. When Adam got up, he
had a small head injury and a big hoof mark in the middle of his back.
At least he got a ribbon for his troubles.
Day 8 - Normanton to Georgetown
had official duties today and they are the first checkpoint and the
last check in checkpoint at Georgetown.
of today’s bash route started at the Normanton railway station, the
home of the famous Gulflander train. After a quick look around the
train it was a quick drive to the first checkpoint stop. This is where
a lucky few could ride the Gulflander to our checkpoint and then
disembark to get back into their Bash cars and continue onto lunch.
The run to
lunch was only 230 km and that was at a gold rush town of Croydon. The
general store had everything even a museum. It was very interesting
and we then had to visit the local hotel. Once I was in there, it
looked familiar and then I saw a photo of the Variety Clowns up on the
wall. I asked the owner when the photo was taken, she said 2006 when
the Bash came through. I then remembered why it looked so familiar,
that was my first Bash (Cairns to Birdsville).
early at lunch to go to our next official duty, the night time check
in at Georgetown. We were there in plenty of time and we had a
visitor that stayed with us throughout the afternoon. Very good mates
from OV9. We started to get bored and set up the camera to take a
photo with the timer. We then started to get the Bashers out of the
cars as they came through our checkpoint to get their photo taken with
us, but they only had 10 seconds to get out of their cars. It turned
out to be a fun afternoon.
another street party in Georgetown’s main street.
Day 9 – Georgetown to Mareeba
had a visitor in the truck and it was Jason, a paramedic from OV 000.
This time Graham helped out the office girls by driving them around.
the rough roads again and we got our first stone chip in 8 years. This
year it has been a lot of firsts for OV FIRE.
across a bunch of Children standing on the side of the road in a
paddock. They were from a school, Forsayth School, that walked down to
the road which the bash was using. This wasn’t a stop that was on the
Variety run sheet but it was great the children took the time and
effort to walk the distance to see us. We had a good chat with them
and did a quick Fire Ed with them. Great bunch of children.
a stop at a small township named Einasleigh. Again this looked
familiar and we stopped here on the 2009 Bash (Townsville to Alice
Springs) but came in on different roads.
at Mount Surprise State School and what a great spread they laid out
for the Bashers. When we left lunch, we had to exit via the rear of
the school through some bushland and straight away we got lost and
took a left turn too early or so we thought. So we went back to the
beginning, driving through the school again to the back and then found
out where we/I made the mistake. It was easily done, and that’s my
story and I’m sticking to it.
out of Mareeba we came across some nice creeks and Lawrence went for a
swim while we watched some bashers try and get their car across the
creek where there wasn’t a crossing. Twice I might add. The first time
they got winched out by another basher and then when it was just us
and them left, they drove straight back into it again. So OV FIRE had
to winch them out. Another first for OV FIRE.
that night put on a movie for the Bashers at the local Drive In
Theatre. They showed Grease and a lot of the Basher got dressed up for
Day 10 – Mareeba to Mission Beach
The last day of the Bash. Woke up to a cool morning with heaps
of fog. First up this morning, Variety is having an opening of a
Liberty Swing in the park at Mareeba.
The atmosphere was mixed, the bashers knew the finish line was not
far away and the hard slog was nearly over, but also knew it will be
another year before they can do all this again and catch up with the
great mates made on the Bash. At today’s start line, many practical
jokes and shenanigans were going on, because it will be harder to
get revenge from the person that got you with the joke, being the
FIRE had one more official duty to carry out and that was to stop
and line up the whole Bash field about 20km from the finish line so
everyone can finish together rather than hours apart (and then the
party can start). The mornings Bash route was again not suitable for
heavy vehicles so the OV FIRE team went direct to the point where we
had to stop the Bash. Because we had so much time to fill in before
we had to be there, we went sightseeing. We stopped at a place just
outside Innisfail called Paronella Park. It was different but a very
had enough time to stop in at lunch at South Johnstone State School
and meet with the children. We were the first there and was treated
like royalty. Nothing was an effort for the children. The local
fresh fruit that was on offer tasted absolutely great. We haven’t
had fruit taste like this in a long time, it was fresh straight out
of the gardens and orchids.
Once the Bashers started to arrive at the School, we had to go do
our official duties. We weren’t at our official position for too
long when the field started to arrive, but we still started to do a
small repair on OV FIRE, change the air conditioning drive belt (did
I forget to mention, OV FIRE has air con now, luxury!!!). Once we
finished the repair, it was time to start the field heading for the
Getting to the finish line was another great achievement for
everyone involved. Plenty of well wishers and cheering as we drove
through the finish arch way. It was great Blazer had a visit with
all the local children and had a little play on Mission Beach.
That night is the final dinner and awards night for the 2013 XXX
Gold Sun, Saddles & Surf Variety Bash. Everyone is basically awarded
for all of their great effort from the year and finishing the Bash.
This year with everyone’s fundraising efforts, Variety raised $1.27
million for the children in need. OV FIREs total fundraising was a
great $22 000.
The whole OV FIRE crew, believes it is a great Bash when the skills
and equipment that OV FIRE has, is not required during the Bash and
everyone finishes safe and sound. Again this year was the case. We
hope we are never required but will be there if necessary.
Home – Mission Beach to Brisbane
(quick stop at Gin Gin)
Early in the morning, we started our long journey back to
Brisbane. We had a visitor or passenger this time, Jason the
Paramedic, he needed a lift back to his home in Gin Gin.
After the tough couple of weeks on the Bash, we allow sleeping in
OV FIRE. I may have to make the back seats not as comfortable as
there are now... Lol...
FIRE and everyone who travelled in her got back home safe and
sound. Even though the old girl had a few mechanical issues this
year, she still didn’t let us down and got us safely across the
finish line and home. OV FIRE is now back in her home in Brisbane,
waiting for repair, but she will be 100% ready to go on the next
years Bash, Brisbane to Sydney.
We would just like to thank all of our family, friends, sponsors
and supporters for helping us to achieve our goal in raising the
much needed funds for the children in need. Also a thank you to
those who help maintain, repair or contribute in any way to get OV
FIRE onto the Bash so we can keep people safe but most of all, put
a smile on the children’s faces.
for this year, and hope to see you next year.