REDARC's Technical and Training Manager and unofficial Mr Fixit, Stuart Peddle was lucky enough to score one of the working holidays of the year, the 2017 SA Variety Bash. The iconic event attracts a convoy of vintage cars decorated in an assortment of stickers, props and other decorative items travellings through the backroads of the South Australia all in the name of charity.
The 2017 event saw participants travel over 1800km from Mt Barker to Mount Gambier. Stuart, a Variety Bash veteran, shares the story of his journey below.
One happy camper - Stuart and his baby
The REDARC Hilux and our custom-built workshop trailer had been hitched up for over a week leading up to the Bash, putting some kilometres on them both after the Hilux received a new engine and the 3-month trailer build was completed. Now poised on the start line – the vehicles and our team were ready for anything!
The soothing sounds of Stuart on The Dirt, Hills Radio, prior to departure
The start line at Mount Barker was cool but crisp, with a clear sunny day promising a beautiful day driving through the Adelaide Hills. The day included a drive through Monarto Zoo and a lunch stop at the Blanchetown Hotel overlooking the Murray. The hotel is a top spot for a bite and cold beer, I recommend it to anyone passing through – it is off the highway so make sure you pull into the town itself or you will miss it.
Day one concluded on the main street of Burra
The first night in Burra saw the main street closed for the Bash where it turned into a street party – awesome fun! The next morning it was time to fix the Ronald McDonald Mercedes – this team have been Bashing for as long as I can remember and prepared a great vehicle, but the suspension took a beating the first day and it needed a happy meal of hydraulic oil for the shockers!
If you are ever looking for accommodation in Burra, the Paxton Cottages are old miner cottages that are cosy and welcoming. And we also stopped at Balah Station for lunch and enjoyed some local hospitality on this beautiful property.
Lake Bonney, Barmera
Lake Bonney in Barmera was the next night stop with a cocktail bar and bonfire at the Discovery Caravan Park, this meant a few sore heads rose to the overcast morning. The Lake was like glass and made for some great photos on the way out of town, heading for the Wilkadene Woolshed for lunch. This micro-brewery on the Murray River was outstanding, and their Hard Lemonade was a hit, along with brilliant views and live music.
The REDARC Hilux at dusk
Sweeping the Bash track (meaning we were the last vehicle through in the convoy) into Mildura night stop gave us the opportunity to pull up for a brew on the remote tracks to watch a distant rain band following us in as the sun went down. It was clear that the trip to Ouyen the next day would start to get interesting.
The dirt tracks proved to be a playground for the vehicles over the weekend
And that it did! As the Bash cars played slip and slide through Pink Lakes to Ouyen, the heavens opened and made for some challenging driving conditions. It was a day of tyre repairs as mud found its way into the bead on many tyres, always difficult to rectify in heavy rain and standing in the mud, but with the Bashers making the most of the unscheduled stops we had fun none-the-less.
Stuart had his work cutout for him over the week, providing assistance to many vehicles
On from Ouyen, we traversed the Murray-Sunset National Park heading toward Keith. The wandering tracks through Mallee scrub and sand made for excellent Bash tracks. This place is a must see for those who love to get off the beaten track and is only a few hours from Adelaide or a leisurely day drive from Melbourne.
Unfortunately, this vehicle could not be recovered and had to be towed back to Adelaide....
The community of Keith really turned on an excellent two days for us at the show grounds. They even broke the local tank out for some shenanigans and fired up some of the local tractor pull machines to make some noise for us. It gave us just a taste of what the famous Diesel and Dirt Derby has in store in March 2018, if you like your tractors loud, your headers head on with each other, and your boats jet powered – this is an event for you!
By the end of the week, most of the rigs had seen better days
The tracks to Naracoorte via Robe were also a little slippery but made for excellent sights across the wet green pastures with the sun breaking through every now and then. If you are looking for the best fish and chips around, the Robe Hotel will satisfy your hunger, and thirst!
A well earned wash before crossing the finishing line in Mount Gambier
After lunch and a carwash by the local CFS at Tarpeena we reached the finish line in Mount Gambier. The weather was perfect and there were hundreds of locals there to welcome us to their town.
An awesome $2.5M was raised this year by the Bashers for special kids in SA! We were fortunate enough to see many of the grants given along the way, a massive $1.7M was given to kids in need, their families, and their support services and schools, during this 8 days.
Thanks to REDARC for continuing to support MW5 and Variety SA.
And bring on the 2018 Bash, Bush to Beach - Broken Hill to the Sunny Coast!
And that's a wrap!
To find out how you can get involved in next year's SA Variety Bash visit their website www.variety.org.au