From The Capricorn Coast Mirror
THERE will be many strange sights bashing through the bush between Brisbane and Sydney in August - but few stranger than a bright pink, stretched 1967 VW Beetle decked out from top to bottom in pictures of The Simpsons.
The Beetle from Yeppoon will travel the 4000km route, winding through south-west Queensland and northern and western New South Wales under the guidance of driver Greg Wilson, his wife and reserve driver Debbie and self-confessed "back-seat driver" and Simpsons tragic David Murray.
Yeppoon residents will have a chance to inspect the vehicle for themselves at the Capricorn Coast Business Expo on Saturday, May 24. Proceeds from the expo will go to Variety, the children's charity.
This year's XXXX Gold Cane Toads to Cockroaches Variety Bash is special because it marks the 25th anniversary of the famous event that sees weird and wonderful vehicles - and even more weird and wonderful crews - plough their way through the outback to raise money for Variety.
To underline the point, Greg will take the role of Homer for the trip, Debbie will be Marg and David will alternate between Bart and Duff Man.
This will be the Yeppoon trio's fifth Variety Bash, having previously participated in 2009, then 2011 and each year since, following routes from Townsville to Alice Springs, Hervey Bay to Gympie via Lightning Ridge, Dalby to Mackay and Emerald to Mission Beach.
According to Greg Wilson, each route has one thing in common: seemingly endless stretches of dirt road mixed with the occasional - and disappointingly short - patches of bitumen to provide brief relief from the bumps.
Greg said the inspiration for stretching the Beetle - which runs on a standard 1600cc engine - had come from an incident last year where it had been bogged in sand. Attempts to pull it out had caused it to stretch.
"I thought if you're going to stretch it, why don't you stretch it properly?" he said.
Work began on the Beetle on the Australia Day weekend this year and was completed about two weeks ago. Wheel to wheel it is now 4.5 metres and end to end it is 6 metres.
Greg and David confidently expect to run into trouble on the journey.
"Everyone breaks down," David said. "Two years ago, we were towed out of seven rivers."
But it's all worth it, of course, for the chance to have a lot of fun along the way and raise significant funds for Variety.
For the small towns they visit, the arrival of the Variety Bash vehicles is a major event. The happiness generated by the gifts they hand out to children in those communities makes it all worthwhile.
Their participation has previously paid for liberty swings at Yeppoon and Emu Park and this year will pay for a roof to be installed over the Emu Park swing, at an estimated cost of $13,000.
Greg also thanked the local businesses that had already sponsored the Beetle for its Variety Bash trip, including Stream Insurance, CQ Pool Supplies, Coastline Signs and CQ Solar. He said additional potential sponsors were welcome to contact him.
This year's 10-day Brisbane to Sydney Variety Bash will visit Millmerran, St George, Wandilla Station, Bourke, Cobar, Narromine, Dubbo and Bathurst between August 8-17.
Since 1990, the event has grown and successive Bashes have collectively raised more than $17 million for sick, disadvantaged and special needs children in Queensland.
Greg said their own entry was not the only Yeppoon entry in this year's Bash - Mick and Terra Hustpith will be making the journey in an entry called GI Joe, a convertible VW Beetle.
Every entrant has to raise money for Variety and all vehicles must be 30 years old or older at the time of entry. They must be two-wheel drive and must not have any "go fast" modifications. Improvements may be made for improved safety but not speed.
The Bash is not a race, rally or speed trial; the single, most significant rule for crews is to enjoy the event away from everyday pressures, while experiencing the splendour of the outback.
Donations made to Variety are spent within the year. Proceeds from the Bash are spent throughout Queensland.