Old Boys ready to take on Variety Bash

Tumut resident Richard Watling and the 1975 Mercedes he and three friends will be entering in the 2021 Variety Bash.

Tumut’s Richard Watling is getting together with three life-long mates to help a great cause and add another adventure to their list by entering the Variety Bash for the first time.

They have entered the rally which will begin in Melbourne on August 12 and will finish in Yeppoon, Qld, on August 21. 

“We got together and decided we’d raise money for disabled and disadvantaged kids,” Mr Watling said.

“We thought we would do it before we get too old.”

The four have been mates for life, having grown up in Gundagai together, hence their Variety Bash team name, the Gundagai Old Boys.

Of the four of them, only Peter Lott still lives in Gundagai, Robert Dowell now living in Broadbeach, Qld, and Jeff Elphick in Canberra. Mr Watling has lived in Tumut for 20 years.

“We’ve had lots of catch-ups,” Mr Watling said.

The quartet registered for the 2020 bash, only to have Covid-19 intervene.

“We were ready to go only to have it cancelled, he said.

He is hoping the current Covid situation in Victoria won’t throw another spanner in the works.

“We are playing it by ear,” he said.

“At this stage it is going ahead. Hopefully there will be no more big outbreaks. Thankfully it is in August, so we’ve got until then.”

Vehicles in the Bash must be more than 30 years old, and the GOB team’s machine is 46 years old, a 1975 Mercedes 280 SE, which was bought from Sydney about two-and-a-half years ago.

It’s powered by a 2.8-litre six-cylinder petrol engine and has an automatic gearbox.

“It cruises beautifully, but for a big car, there’s not a lot of room with four of us in it,” Mr Watling said.

The route they will be taking isn’t the closest connecting highway but a round-about way which will take in plenty of roads that will test man and machine.

The main stops are Deniliquin, Renmark (SA), Wilpena Pound (SA), Marree (SA), Birdsville (Qld), Longreach (Qld), Springsure (Qld) then Yeppoon.

The GOB team are making sure they are as ready as they can be, and took a road trip to test the Mercedes, heading up to Cobar, Lightning Ridge, Warren, Coonabarabran and Dubbo before heading home.

“There were a couple of little problems, but they’re all sorted, so that’s good,” Mr Watling said.

“The radiator got a slight leak, so we replaced it, and the alternator wasn’t charging as well as it should have been so we replaced that too.”

They also added heavy duty shocks and springs.

Each team needs to carry their own gear, which consists of clothing, spare parts, fuel and water.

“We will travel approximately 500 to 550 km each day,” Mr Watling said.

Stops will be made at schools along the way.

The minimum fundraising target for rookies such as the GOB team is $5000 but they will be aiming for more than that.

“We are all looking forward to this adventure, and being able to help those most in need,” he said.

Donations can be made by calling Mr Watling on 0428 474 388.

“We thank and appreciate the help and donations made to date, and feel very proud to be able to make this trip and lend a helping hand.”