September 4 - 10, 2016: Issue 279

Mermaids Of Palm Beach In Variety The Children's Bash 2016: Tales From The Road

Bowen Golf Club. Three Mermaids first on the scene! 
102 cars started from Berowra on Sunday august 21st as part of the 2016 Variety the children’s Charity B to B Bash, this year finishing at Bowen in Queensland. 

The aim was to visit schools and children and towns all along a route that encompassed Ellerston, Armidale, Bellata, Lightning Ridge, Bollon and Charleville, then on to Blackall and Longreach. By Day 6 the Bashers were heading for Muttaburra and Hughenden then forward to Greenvale and Charters Towers, Scartwater and then to Bowen.
On reaching Bowen they travelled to Shute Harbour for a day and night on Hamilton Island.

Some looked forward to the open countryside and a few dirt roads to drive along – ‘having a Bash’ this is defined as, when there’s some real dirt road. Others wanted to meet all the children their fundraising would support.

The Northern Beaches has three ladies who go in this event each year and have raised hundreds of thousands between them during their time ‘Bashing’ as the Mermaids of Palm Beach in Car 2108, a great old Holden. 
Beryl Driver, who this year completed her 18th Bash, 19th when you count one she completed in New Zealand, spoke to us the morning after the night before – the Celebration Ball that occurs on the last evening of each Variety the Children’s Charity B to B Bash. Although Beryl may have been tired after such a long journey rising at dawn to be on the road is part of every Bash and the Mermaids were ready for a dip and a chat at breakfast.

We asked them a few questions about this year’s Bash and share a timeline of Palm Beach Mermaid Viktorija McDonell’s photos from the road.

What were your favourite people and place on this year’s Bash?

Beryl Driver: the children were just great this year – in every town, and these are all small towns, the schools were just terrific and just beautiful children lovely kids.
For a place, we all liked Longreach very much. The Stockman’s Hall of Fame there is wonderful, and the QANTAS Museum. We had a lay day there so we had a good look around, very friendly people and a lovely place.
They had a wild west style show on while we  were there, a rodeo – a man came out on his horse and this horse did everything. He lay a blanket on its back and the horse pulled this up further over itself and lay down and pretended to go to sleep. Then every time he tried to put the saddle on he’d place the blanket on and reach for the saddle and while he’s doing that the horse would reach around, gab the blanket and throw it away. 
We loved it all really, all these wonderful little towns
Bowen was a great place too, terrific place. This was where we finished before we drove down to Hamilton Island.

Viktorija McDonell: All the children, these were the best schools we’ve ever been to - in every town the schools were just wonderful and the children were all great.
Elyse Cole: Hamilton Island!

You were first over the line this year – how did that happen?, normally the Mermaids are swimming at the rear aren’t you?
(Beryl Laughs)
Yes. It was very nice to post a first for once.
(Laughs again)

But how did you do it?
(Laughs more)
We didn’t have the car! The poor old car broke down first hour of the first day…
So we continued on in my car.
I have to tell you there was so much rain – that first four days we nearly didn’t do the Bash Route because all the roads were washed out. We continued on as a group anyway, the roads weren’t that good so it made it hard, but to have done it in our old Holden, may have been very difficult. 

The farmers will be happy though?
Yes, the farmers are happy.

So you brought a blessing with you really…
Yes, that’s what they all said
We all loved Lightning Ridge too, even though it was raining and miserable and muddy it’s a wonderful place, a very interesting place, lots of great characters. 

Does it remind you of what the real Australia is like visiting these towns each year?
Oh yes, very much so, because the real Australians are out there, wonderful people. You look at all these little kids and you think of them as all these little up and coming Australians, they’re all so gorgeous and such good kids. Then seeing the fellow with the horses or seeing two other girls that were riding round and round the arena doing tricks on the horses, just beautiful young Australian girls.

Were there any adventures that happened this year?
Yes! There was a wedding! A couple got married on the Bash in their Hogwarts outfits in front of all of us when we were at Longreach, in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
After the ceremony John Paul Young came up on a big platform out of the ground and sang ‘Love Is In The Air’ in this white suit. He was wonderful.
Last night, at the closing Ball, they auctioned the white suit for Variety and raised $3000.00 – and guess what? He bought it at Lowes!
That suit has been upscaled now! It’s great to see this raise so much for Variety.

What happens on final night?
We have a great last get-together and they hand out Certificates for those who have done Bash’s – a five year, ten year, 15 year etc.
I’ll be up for my 20 year Certificate in two years time.
One chap has 30 years though. He’s about 58 now, so he’s been doing these for a long time. He’s part of a team that come from Deniliquin and drive this funny old truck. These two are the ones that look after us, they’re motor mechanics, and if the car breaks down they put the car on the truck and take you to the next town and get the repairs done.
They’re great mates who started this together, incredibly funny – they wear stubbie shorts, they’re really true blue Aussies, just wonderful. 
They would have both got their 30 Year Certificate this year but poor Ron had a stroke. He fought back, an absolute champion, and came back on the Bash this year. He’s a new man, full of talk and so happy – so next year he’ll get his 30 Years up. His mate John received his last night.
It was a wonderful night, a lovely way to end the Bash this year.

What was the most exciting thing for you girls this year?
Coming in first!

2016 also marks Peter Hebbes AM final year as Chairman of the Motoring Events Committee. He has given 25 years as a Basher and 15 as Chairman, giving his time, expertise and passion. Thank you Peter for all you have done for Bashers, Variety Australia and, most importantly, the kids.

On August 30th, at the end of Bash celebrations and the 12 months of fundraising from all of the amazing Bashers, the organisers were happy to announce they have raised over $2 million, which was their target for this year! So many Aussie children in need will benefit from the incredible generosity of this Bash family.

Now….for 2017….!
Viktorija McDonell
August 21 at 10:20am 
Mermaids on the Bash 2016. Broken down on Day 1 Hour 1!! Waiting for tow truck and replacement vehicle - we will continue on in Beryl's regular car

Viktorija McDonell
August 22, 2016
Day 2

Sunset on Coopers Cottage in Lightning Ridge. Good bit of guttering there, must be original 1916 vintage!
Coopers Cottage is an authentic abode of the early miner, built in 1916. Its historical setting embraces the living conditions of the mining pioneer. 

Elyse considering her next career...

Ray looking very sharp with two Tartan Mermaids at Lightning Ridge Bowling Club.
Viktorija McDonell 
August 23 at 10:56pm 
Day 3 lunchtime at Bollon school. Wonderful!

Viktorija McDonell added 10 new photos.
August 24 
Day 4. From breakfast at Charleville to lunch at Blackall, with a stop at Tambo Teddy's. Mermaids with the Bash all on tar!

Team Member of the Kermit and the Frogettes Bash Car

The Avengers Car Bash Team – has 84 year old doing his 5th Bash!

Viktorija McDonell
August 25 
Day 5 

Breakfast at Our Ladys Primary at Longreach

Mermaids in Longreach.

Crazy Horse girls riding the Cobb & co into town!'
The ‘Crazy Horse’ girls are a duo from New Zealand, Rebecca and Brigit, who drive a 1966 Mustang called ‘Crazy Horse’. The girls state they are a team of two (they have no back seat), that it’s great doing the Bash as there’s a wonderful ‘Variety’ of people undertaking this each year who all have one goal in mind – to help the children.

Longreach: Lay Day. A relaxing day, a Hogwarts wedding and JPY serenade at dinner!

Viktorija McDonell 
August 27 
Day 6. From Longreach to Muttaburra to Hughenden. Dinosaurs and dirt on the way!

Viktorija McDonell 
August 28 
Day 8. Start from Charters Tower then K9 coffee stop with Angels at Ayr then hello Grandview Hotel, Bowen.  

Viktorija McDonell 
August 29 
Day 9. breakfast and start at Bowen state school.

Stuart Telfer
August 30 

YES!!!!! We finally made Hamilton Island!

Lavern and Shirley with their Outright Winners Trophy for the 2016 Variety Brydens Lawyers Berowra to Bowen Bash!!!
Viktorija McDonell 
August 30
Hamilton Island, One Tree Hill Cocktail Hour and Bash 2016 final night. 
Formal Mermaids, Angels, Pigs and K9. 
Some Bash legends acknowledged. 
Thanks Stuart and Peter for all that you do!

Pictures by Viktorija McDonell, Stuart Telfer and Elyse Cole, 2016