Publicans ditch schooners for steering wheels as over 100 cars set for 2018 Variety NSW Bash in Newcastle

Hunter publicans will let go of the beer taps and grasp vintage steering wheels this weekend as they jump in decades-old vehicles for the start of the 27th annual Variety NSW Bash. 

Over 100 vehicles will gather at Foreshore Park in Newcastle on Sunday for the 8am start of an epic 2000km journey.

Sponsored by the Australian Hotels Assocation, with the Newcastle Hunter Sub-Branch the major back since 2013, the trip will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s charity, Variety. 

A host of hotel operators are taking part in the event, which travels through Glen Innes, Narrabri, Forbes, Griffith, Orange and Mudgee.

“AHA members have supported the Variety Bash event almost since its inception,” Stag and Hunter Hotel owner Mick Starkey said.

“Each year, AHA Newcastle Hunter Sub-Branch and its members participate in the event, and through raffles and other initiatives, raise money for Variety. There’s also stops at some pubs along the way.” 

Variety Bash advertises itself as not a race or a rally, but an adventure with mates where participants visit local towns and stop into schools and organisations along the way.

They get to see what their fundraising contributes to with a range of educational, and health and mobility equipment provided to locals throughout the trip.

Travis Hargreaves, of the Royal Crown Hotel in Dudley, said he was gearing up for his first Variety NSW Bash.

“A couple of mates involved in the hotel industry took me on a mini-bash last year and I got a bit of a taste for it,” he said. 

“We’ve got our own car, a ‘68 Valiant. A couple of firefighters sold it to us ready to go. 

“There’ll be a lot of good stories come out of it driving the back roads through country towns, and just seeing the result of giving back to the communities.”

READY: The four participants stand with one of their cars. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

READY: The four participants stand with one of their cars. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

Mr Hargreaves’ group had raised over $100,000 so far, and was hoping to reach $150,000 before Sunday.

A recent function at the Royal Crown Hotel featuring injured Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce, and former rugby league players Adam MacDougall and Wendall Sailor, helped propel their fundraising.  

“We’re pretty lucky that we can go business to business and through the pub as well,” he said. 

“We had a sportman’s lunch last week and got a couple of high profile NRL players to come up for luncheon. 

“We raised $42,000 on the day alone.”

Variety will hold a finishing event at Foreshore Park on Saturday, May 26, when the convoy returns.