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Variety Fire Truck

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UPDATED 22nd September 2013

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OVFIRE is a Brisbane Queensland entrant in Variety Children's Charity Bash

events that helps raise funds for sick children


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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. 


That night 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. 



Another 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 with that). 


OV FIRE 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. 


It didn’t 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. 


Once we 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 

First up 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. 

Today we 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.




 Word got 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 nap. 

Again this 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!!!


When we 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.

Day 3 – Stonehenge to Winton 

This was 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. 

Driving 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. 


The way 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. 

Finally we 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 with mates.    



Day 4 – Winton to Boulia 


No 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 FIRE. 


OV FIRE 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 bash.  

Today was 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 drawn. 




It does 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 us all. 


At the 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 Adam volunteered.  



When we 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. 

That night 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 


Another 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 volunteered. 


The drive 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 to. 


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. 


At the 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. 


Once we 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.    


Once we finished the parade, it was off to our accommodation for the next two days, Mt Isa Fire Station. 


Day 6 – Day off 


Today is 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 work.  


At the 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 


Many thanks to the Fire Crews from Mt Isa station that allowed us to stay at their station and for looking after our needs. 


Yep 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. 

At the 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. 


We were 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 a tyre.  

We limped 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. 

After all 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. 



That night 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 quickly.  



I must 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 


OV FIRE had official duties today and they are the first checkpoint and the last check in checkpoint at Georgetown. 


The start 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). 


We left 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.



That night another street party in Georgetown’s main street.



Day 9 – Georgetown to Mareeba 

Today we 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. 

Back on 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. 

We came 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. 




There was 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. 




Lunch was 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. 


Not far 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. 

Mareeba 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 the occasion.   

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 last day.   

 OV 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 petty area.

 We 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 finish line.

 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...

 OV 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.


 Bye for this year, and hope to see you next year.




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