Taking the scenic route for charity

View: The Willy Buccaneers, who have connections to the region, are taking part in the Variety Vic Bash for charity. Photographs supplied



THE Variety Vic Bash is back for 2023, and this year, a couple of local guys will be giving it a crack, as they scale their way from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.

Sounds simple right? Wrong.

The Variety Vic Bash takes cars only 30 years or older through the treacherous bush, up tracks and through creek beds.

On the way to various locations throughout the 10-day journey, the convoy will make stops to certain communities along the way, raising money for children in need.

Traralgon’s Graeme Cavanagh will join James Walshe’s team, called The Willy Buccaneers, for the 2023 Variety Vic Bash.

This will be Mr Cavanagh’s first Variety Vic Bash, joining Mr Walshe who is believed to have participated around seven times.

Mr Walshe asked Mr Cavanagh if he’d like to come along one time, and they agreed that next time Mr Walshe would have an open spot, Mr Cavanagh would vacate it.

“We’re all going to be wearing pirate uniforms,” Mr Cavanagh explained.

Teams tend to create a theme and dress up to it.

It’s not compulsory, but when the Bash visits schools, it creates an inclusive vibe to the event.

“That’s the fun part of it,” Mr Cavanagh said.

The Willy Buccaneers have two cars entered for the Bash, with each car having three people per car; someone to drive, someone to give directions and someone to rotate with, allowing all three people to swap roles within the car.

Walshe has rich connections to the Latrobe Valley too, despite currently living in Trentham – northwest of Melbourne.

Walshe’s father Leonard (Len) Walshe MBE was known as the lead instigator in the development of the Traralgon Hospital.

Len would be awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1980 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Mr Walshe used to live in Traralgon before moving toward the city.

The 10-day journey takes them up the east coast of Australia, with multiple inland stops.

Starting in Melbourne, they finish day one in Phillip Island, then head onto Benalla, Shepparton, Yass, Dubbo, Nelson Bay, Coffs Harbour, before finishing on the Gold Coast.

“We get our, they’re almost like rally notes, on the day, which says what way we’re going to travel,” Mr Cavanagh said.

Essentially, the route is not as straight forward as it seems, as teams are directed on dirt tracks, winding around the country.

“The plan is to take all of the squiggly back roads, through the pine trees, and just all of these back tracks,” Mr Cavanagh added.

The Variety Vic Bash has a number of sponsors, but participants are encouraged to attract their own sponsors, to raise even more money.

“I’m getting ROPAN from down here to sponsor us,” Mr Cavanagh said.

“We’re going to put stickers on the car and stuff.

“ROPAN have been my and my parent’s financial advisors for years.”

With around 100 teams, plus mechanics and recovery personnel, it equates to around 300-400 people, lobbying into rural towns.

“It injects a lot of money into the towns, because you fill up all the hotels, the local RSL’s, the local pubs, they have to feed us all,” Mr Cavanagh said.

Mr Cavanagh explained how he always opts for the scenic route, disregarding how long the journey is, when he goes on long car trips.

He explains that it is what he is most looking forward to.

“Getting out in the back country of Australia,” Mr Cavanagh said.

“When I travel, I try and do what the Variety Bash does, like if I have to go from here to Benalla, I’ll look for the squiggly road that goes out to the bush to have a bit of a look.”

Their 10-day journey will leave them up on the Gold Coast, but Mr Cavanagh reckons he might just do a bit more sightseeing on his way back, not rushing his journey home.

“We’ll meander our way back,” Mr Cavanagh said.

“There might be something on the way up there that we want to go back and see, or something that somebody else wants to go and see that was near where we were.

“We might take a week to get back!”

The Bash gets underway on August 16.

Fix: Spares are needed for the Variety Vic Bash. Photograph supplied