Bowen team successfully complete their charity rally dream
TWO Bowen men have blown their expectations out of the water by raising over $11,000 for cancer charity during this year's Shitbox Rally.
Melbourne to Townsville, through the middle of Australia on mostly dirt roads, is a trip usually reserved for a 4WD - and a reliable one at that.
For local residents, Ray Stephens and Rob Charles the gruelling six-day trek was made in something a little more modest, an AU Falcon.
They formed part of a 550 people convoy in cars worth less than $1,000 (aka shitboxes).
Originally hunting a fundraising goal of $8000, the duo saw the number smashed and have raised over $11,000 for Cancer Council.
The pair said they were shocked by the reliability of their car, and by the 'quality of the roads out there'.
"There were people who joked we wouldn't even make it to Melbourne for the start but our car ended up being one of the most reliable," Mr Charles said.
"We never even got a puncture which is amazing considering the road quality, the size of some of the rocks and the amount we saw from other teams. We got a batch of dodgy fuel but that was about all."
He said there was a number of 'bush engineering' jobs, however, including a Mercedes with a Ford radiator mounted to its roof.
Teams must raise a minimum of $5000 to participate with some spending almost a year fundraising, including the Bowen team who conducted 'about 5 sausage sizzles and countless meat trays and raffles' to end up with their final amount.
Mr Stephens said the collective impact of the donations made towards the Cancer Council was significant.
The rally aimed to raise $2m however it is estimated to have raised over $2.2m.
"We can't thank the people of Bowen enough and all of our sponsors who came on board to make our amazing total so high," he said.
Even though the pair said the rally was challenging, Mr Stephens said he would highly recommend it to anyone considering it.
He has even gone as far as to purchase the Falcon back in case he wants to give it another go in the future.
"The level of camaraderie and mateship on the trip was amazing, you just bond with everyone," he said.
"There was a team who had an unrepairable problem so their group all got together and put a couple of hundred dollars together to buy them a car in Birdsville, just so they could complete the rally."
Mr Charles said one of the best things about the rally was giving outback towns 'a bit of a boost.'
"If suddenly 550 people roll up into town, you're going to have a good kick in your takings for the day," he said.
"That was the best part I think, seeing those towns and being able to contribute to giving them a helping hand."
He joked that the pubs probably got the most trade in every town.
So what recommendations do the duo have for anyone considering undertaking the rally in future?
"Get a ute and bring lots of spares, because you're going to want to be carting a lot around."