August 11 - 17, 2019: Issue 416


The Mermaids Of Palm Beach Pictures 'From The Road' For The 2019 B To B Variety The Children's Charity Bash

Day One

Dick Smith was on hand to wave the official start flag for the 35th Variety Brydens Lawyers B to B Bash on Sunday July 28th. Those starting said it was great to hear from Dick how the very first Bash came to be back in 1985, and to remind everyone to never lose the spirit of the Bash!

Setting off from Bondi Beach, the 300 Bashers started their 4,300km drive to Batt Reef, Port Douglas. 

From Palm Beach to Bondi! photo by and courtesy Sallymae Bailey 

The Mermaids went over the Hawkesbury to the first stop on Day One, the small Central Coast town of Yarramalong, where the Darkinjung Barker School hosted everyone for lunch. 

Darkinjung Barker School was established in 2016 with a new approach to Indigenous education, for K-6 Indigenous students at Yarramalong on the Central Coast. The unique school is a result of the support of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, the local community and parents/guardians, and of the Barker Council, staff, students, parents/guardians and alumni. School Principal Jamie Shackelton, along with staff and parents from the school gave the Bashers a warm welcome and a full belly.

The school received donations from the Bash of a new BBQ, cubbyhouse and sun marquee.

After a bumpy ride into Singleton, the Bashers caught up with friends old and new over a meal at the Singleton Bowling Club.

Day Two

It was a chilly start on day two of the 2019 Variety B to B Bash in Singleton, but the Bashers were warmed up with a hot breakfast at the Australian Christian School. The school caters for students from Prep to Year 12, and has a strong focus on literacy and numeracy and opportunities through technology. Principal Tim Shields was presented with a donation of soft furniture, a cubbyhouse, music and sporting equipment and books worth $8,358.

It was all fun and games at the Triple Fun Stop at the Caves Ridge property set amongst the hills of Timor - Mermaids actually made it there in time! The 2,400 acre property was the venue for some serious (but fun) competition by the Bashers, with games including hoop throwing, dizzy football kicking and cowpat throwing.

The Bashers were given a rousing welcome for lunch by the students at Nemingha Public School, 9km from Tamworth. The rural school caters for 220 students from the area, and received a donation of musical instruments and an earth ball worth $3,000.

In store for the afternoon was a casual 205km drive from Nemingha to Inverell, where we shared the dirt roads with some local cows, sheep and even an echidna.

To round out the day, the Bashers ‘Believed’ they could ‘Turn Back Time’ in their ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ for a raucous Cher and Elvis theme night at the RSM Club in Inverell

Day Three

The philosophy of Ross Hill Public School is ‘You can do it!’, and it’s a philosophy shared by the 300 Bashers who the school hosted for breakfast this morning.

It was farewell to New South Wales as the Bash made its way north over the border into Queensland – first stop Yelarbon, a small rural town 40 kilometres east of Goondiwindi. 

The Bashers were welcomed by a large sign made by the students of the school, and plenty of smiling faces. Here the Bashers were attending a Blue lunch at a Bluer school!

Variety donated $6,800 worth of sensory musical equipment for the playground that will help the kids develop problem solving skills, express emotion and build confidence. The students of the school entertained the Bashers with a song, before John Williamson returned the favour with a rendition of his iconic hit, True Blue.

Below: Mermaids of Palm Beach Beryl Driver OAM and Viktorija McDonnell at Yelarbon State School. Here they are meeting Elri Kriel, a Baha 5 recipient and her family. 

Thanks To Cochlear for donating 2 Mini Mics to the school to make listening in the two classrooms easier for the 39 kids at the school. Thank you to Yelarbon school for a great lunch, and wonderful reception from all the kids and parents and teachers. Another great Variety Bash experience!

After lunch there was plenty of great dirt and dust action on the drive into Miles, rounding out a 460km day. 

Our dolphin found some water! On to Miles after miles and miles of dust!

Painted silo at Yelarbon - visited the Painted Silo Art Trail information page: this one was only completed on July 5th, 2019, a few weeks prior to the Mermaids swimming through!  

The 24m-tall artwork on the GrainCorp silos at Yelarbon is titled "When the rain comes" and depicts a hopeful oasis scene in the desert spinifex town.

Painted by Brisbane-based artists' collective the Brightsiders Group, the artwork took five weeks to complete. The group said their vision for the Yelarbon artwork was to create an iconic oasis scene for the town and to "quench" the thirst of curious tourists passing through the desert spinifex country. 

Day Four

After a fun night exploring the Miles Historical Museum, breakfast on Day Four took the Bash to Miles State School. The Bashers were entertained by the school choir, with a heart-warming rendition of This Is Me, from The Greatest Showman. The Cricketers got the chance to check out the new ‘Watersaver’ Garden Beds that Variety donated to the school, which will be used to teach the kids agriculture skills and provide a steady supply of produce to the school canteen.

Taroom State School was the lunch stop, where the kids got out of class early to meet the Bashers and check out the cars. The school received two new marquees for their sporting fields, so the kids can still get out on the pitch during the Queensland summer.

There were plenty of great dirt roads to explore on the afternoon drive into Emerald, and even a few spots of rain. It was the biggest day so far on this year’s Bash, with close to 600km covered.

Day Five

The biggest driving day of the Bash with 730km to cover from Emerald to Hughenden. The day started with breakfast at St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School where we donated sensory equipment and educational games to the value of $6,500. The school’s Principal Mick Roach said the equipment will be a great way for the kids to build new skills and confidence, and the school would not have been able to afford to buy the gear for the students.

Day 5 was Jockey and Horse Day with brilliant costumes donned by the Bashers! Here the Mermaids are joined by Graeme Wong

After some great dirt roads on the way out of Hughenden, the Bashers stopped to eat their packed lunch on the banks of Lake Dunn at Aramac, one of the oldest towns in Central Queensland.

As the first of the Bashers headed onwards on the Bash route, storm clouds quickly came overhead and delivered some serious rain. Great for the farmers, but not for the dirt road that would take us into Hughenden. With diversions in place it proved to be an extra-long day for many of our Bashers, a lot of whom didn’t make it into town until close to midnight.

Day Six

Day six started with a visit to St Francis Catholic School in the rural township of Hughenden. With only 34 students, the school went above and beyond to put on a breakfast of kings, and the students gave the Bashers a rousing rendition of ‘Rockin’ Robin’ to thank them for visiting. Variety donated $6,000 worth of outdoor musical equipment to the school, which judging by their vocal talents will be put to great use.

Next stop was the Oasis Roadhouse at The Lynd. The locals had organized lunch and games to feed and entertain the Bashers. Some of the best dirt tracks so far on this Bash were enjoyed in the afternoon, including a water crossing to wash away the mud.

Georgetown was our home for the night, located 412km south-west of Cairns. Next stop – Karumba and the Gulf of Carpentaria!

Day Seven

Georgetown State School put on another great breakfast for the Bashers, and received a donation of $6,000 worth of sporting equipment. There might only be 33 students at this small rural school, but they punch above their weight in sport, competing in tournaments all across Far North Queensland.

The lunch stop served up a real treat for the Bashers, with the owners of Claraville Station firing up the barbie.

Variety Chair John Dennis started a fundraiser for young Archie, 11, to make it to Canberra for a school excursion next year. Archie wants to visit the War Memorial and Parliament House, and is on his way thanks to the generosity of the Bashers with over $3,000 raised,

Mid-afternoon the Bashers rolled into Karumba, taking in the amazing scenery of the Gulf of Carpentaria and settling in for an evening of seafood and great tunes.

Day Eight

The Bashers have covered 3,400km so far on the 35th Variety Brydens Lawyers B to B Bash, with the finish line in sight. This morning was our 11th school visit, with a donation of sensory play equipment to Karumba State School. Despite being a Sunday morning, the school made sure the Bashers were well fed ahead of a full day of driving.

Today brought plenty of dust, as we shared the 562km journey with plenty of cattle, the odd family of wild pigs, and road trains.

Our stop for the night was the historic township of Chillagoe to the west of the Atherton Tablelands. With a population of 310 people, the town was once home to the Chillagoe smelter which, before closing in 1943, produced over 9,778 tonnes of gold, 18,436 tonnes of silver, 60,963 tonnes of copper and 5,080 tonnes of lead during its period of operation.

Day Nine

Chillagoe to Port Douglas. After having breakfast at Chillagoe Rodeo Ground, we visited the children of Chillagoe State School (some vampires there!)

The Mermaids were with other Bashers as we stopped to donate a new $7000 stage for the school to use in their musical program and annual public performances.

We continued on then, enjoying the personal service at Mt Molloy. 

And then....First view of the sea! 

After the 226km drive from Chillagoe, the Bashers set their sights on the finishing arch. The locals and tourists of Port Douglas gave the Bashers a rousing welcome as they made their way down Macrossan Street and into Rex Smeal Park. The Mossman/Port Douglas Police Blue Light Association were on hand to cook up a storm to feed the hungry Bashers.

The journey of over 4,000kms of dusty roads, of over $70,000 in donations to 12 remote schools, colourful costumes, a few mechanical issues and plenty of laughs was almost done. The 92 cars and 300 Bashers rolled across the finish line today in the 35th Variety Brydens Lawyers B to B Bash.

There were smiles and cheers all-round, as the Bashers celebrated the last nine days of Bashing from Bondi Beach to Port Douglas, bringing smiles to hundreds of kids along the way. They were also celebrating the 12 months of fundraising that led up to the Bash, which will provide much needed support to thousands of kids who are sick, disadvantaged or living with special needs. 

Day 9 and Mermaids are at the Finish! Another Bash done and dusted! Bashers in their formal gear at the final night at the Sheraton - a great finish to a great Bash. My 14th and Beryl’s 21st! 

NB: Mermaids won the Putters Award. 

I even met a Virgin Basher - Chris Ladas whose son has two Cochlear implants. Over $1.5million raised for disabled and disadvantaged children! 

Thank you Variety! And thank you Cochlear and all the many supporters of Car 2108, The Mermaids.

Tomorrow is the final leg of this year’s Bash with a trip out to Batt Reef (no cars allowed unfortunately), after which the Bashers will kick up their heels at the final night dinner.

Viktorija McDonnell

Day Ten

Variety the Children's Charity B to B organisers say:

THANK YOU BASHERS! You are absolute legends and because of your commitment, hard work and generosity, Variety can make sure that more kids in need get a fair go.