Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! And then pray your shitbox lasts the whole way.
Australia’s most anticipated national charity event has announced dates for their 10th anniversary in 2019 and they’re now taking your applications. In under a year’s time, teams of two will tackle dusty outback roads in shitbox cars (worth less than $1,000) to raise money for Cancer Council.
Kelvin Woods, a resident of Perth’s northern suburbs, has rallied before in previous years and enjoys the atmosphere of it all.
“You’re out somewhere you rarely get the opportunity to visit, surrounded by like-minded lunatics, in cars generally at the twilight of their life whilst raising much-needed funds for cancer research,” Kelvin said.
“There are people from all walks of life on the rally. From people in their late teens and early twenties to retirees, from CEOs to students. The mix of people all working towards a common cause is beautiful.”
Kelvin and his co-driver Russell Clayton have registered again for 2019, under the same team name they’ve used previously: Thunderbox. It’s not surprising that toilet humour is prolific at this event.
But the one thing Kelvin truly enjoys is the camaraderie.
“I like that when a car breaks down, everyone in your group (we’re in groups of seven cars), stays together and works to get the car back on the road,” he said.
And if it’s “beyond a roadside patch job,” there’s plenty of volunteer and medical support crews in modern 4WDs to provide assistance.
Founded by James Freeman in 2009 after both of his parents died from cancer, Shitbox Rally is the largest independent fundraiser for the Cancer Council. In 2018, it broke records with fundraising totals reaching $1.974 million. This has set the bar for a new 2019 fundraising goal of $2 million.
“When I launched the rally back in 2009 I hoped that within five years we would hit $1 million raised at each rally, but I never envisaged raising $2 million on the 10th anniversary rally,” James said.
“It is going to take a lot of commitment and hard work, but I am confident we will do it.”
To help reach their target, Shitbox Rally organisers have upped the ante by extending their rally from 7 days to 10 days, while also extending the distance. The 2019 rally will now go from Perth to Sydney via Uluru rather than Adelaide to Darwin.
“Travelling West to East the terrain usually doesn’t change as much as the South to North rallies,” James said. “But that said, we are not staying on the same latitude, so there will still be significant variation in terrain.
“There will still be a number of surprises for the teams and it will be a truly epic journey.”
Driver Kelvin Woods is also just as excited for the extra three days and applauds the organisers’ choice.
“It’s the ten year anniversary of the rally, and I can see the organisers are trying to do something special,” Kelvin said.
Based on previous experience, Kelvin knows the exact route won’t be announced for some time. Also, with so many possibilities, it’s nearly impossible to guess.
And if you’re considering registering for the 10-day drive, Kelvin says “do it!”
“You will not regret it,” he said. “It’s such an eye-opening experience on how good humans can be. It’s difficult, it’s dusty, it’s tiring, it’s magnificent.
“At the end of it, you really know you’ve worked hard.”
Registrations are now open via www.shitboxrally.com.au for those who have received email notification.
Car revving and starting. Sound: Jack Murr