The ‘Laurieton Crew’

Comments (0) Interviews

From August 6 – 17, Wayne Poll, Rob Plante, Robert Dwyer and John Sykes will embark on a ‘land-faring’ adventure. The ‘Laurieton Crew’ will traverse the breadth of Australia, making new mates along the way and even doing a spot of treasure hunting – to raise funds for Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Hi guys please introduce yourselves to our readers. Wayne Poll:

I’m probably the oldest member of the group (I’m 65). I’m the President of the Laurieton United Services Club, and I have a business here in town. This trek is something on my bucket list, and the highlight will be seeing the kids get the special equipment they need. It’s all rather exciting!

Rob Plante: I’m a retired local government engineer, and I actually went on the 2001 Bash. The reason I went on that was the Bash went through Condobolin, which is where I was in 2000, and we helped feed and look after the participants. I put my hand up to do it the following year. On the Bash, the towns we pull into are the towns where money is handed out. Every town has disadvantaged kids … so you pull up at the town and hand out a cheque, and it really gives you a good sense of community spirit. It’s a lot of fun – hard work and long days, but the rewards are so great.

John Sykes: I’m an ex-farmer from South Australia. I’ve lived in the area for 11 years. The thought of doing something like this trek absolutely inspired me – to help children and hopefully have an exciting time. Mind you – that’s a bit of a worry when you think of a 12-day trip across Australia in a car with three other blokes! We’re going to have some fun; we’re going to do it rough and sleep on the side of the road in places, but at the back of our minds we know we’re going to raise money for Variety, the Children’s Charity and disadvantaged children.

Robert Dwyer: I’m a happily married father of three, the general manger of the Laurieton United Services Club and Camden Haven Golf Club and a proud member of many other community groups. Being part of the Variety Bash is an exciting extension of what our clubs do for the community − giving back to those in need and to those who do great work for people in need. The fact that Variety purchases and grants the equipment or services directly, to ensure every dollar gets through to where it’s needed most, is an inspiring cause.

What exactly is the Baulkham Hills to Buccaneer Rock Bash? John: The Bash is a fundraiser for Variety – which raises funds for disadvantaged children. One of Variety’s sources of income is this “Bash” – a trek completed by old motor cars (manufactured during or pre 1974). It costs the entrants $8,500 to enter – that’s excluding the cost of the car, petrol and accommodation. This year the trek starts at Baulkham Hills in Sydney and goes to Buccaneer Rock in Broome [WA] – a total of 5,423 km. There’s actually a reason for us going as pirates! In years gone by, explorer William Dampier supposedly buried some treasure near Buccaneer Rock on the beach. We’re planning to find that treasure chest, liberate it and give whatever’s in there to Variety!

So, how does Variety help disadvantaged children? Wayne: Nationally they provide more than one million dollars each month in assistance for special children. They purchase things like hospital equipment. In 2010 they spent $860,000 on Sunshine Coaches and $433,000 for wheelchairs and mobility devices, plus much, much more – these are all things that these kids, families and schools couldn’t have afforded without help. Robert D: Variety receives thousands of requests each year for cochlear implants, myo-electric limbs and other technologies. Variety is hoping to fulfil the needs for disadvantaged children all over Australia.

What about the fifth ‘member’ of your team? What sort of car will you be driving? Wayne: She’s a Mercedes Benz – a ‘74 model. It’s a 450SE V8 saloon. John: The Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce is backing us seriously, which is why our car number is 2443 – the postcode. It also has a 2.8 metre long wine bottle on the roof; it holds 850 litres and represents our major sponsor, ‘The Accomplice’ Wines – the car is pretty flashed up!

What do you expect the journey will be like? Wayne: There will be around 100 cars on this Bash, and every night each car is checked in, to make sure they arrive safely. A semi-trailer follows the cars. On board this vehicle is a mechanic.

John: Everyone follows the same route – and a lot of it is off the beaten track. Every morning we’ll be given a route directory. It is like a drive in the outback with a few hundred mates. There are no prizes for getting there first; the prizes are awarded for the cars that raise the most money.

Robert D: We will be deciding our daily driver by a game of Paper, Scissors, Rock each morning. I have a cunning strategy in place, inspired by my five-year-old son, who brings a fourth element to the game which beats them all – magic, but don’t tell the others.

How can the community get behind the cause and support The Laurieton Crew?

Wayne: We have to say a huge thank you to all of the people who have already sponsored us and bought raffle tickets. The community has really got behind us. John: We’re having a huge bowls day on the 3rd July at the Camden Haven Golf Club, and we’ll be drawing our major raffle on the day, which is a helicopter ride for you and two mates around the Camden Haven. To play in the bowls day, contact the club on 6559 4203 to book your place. We’re always on the lookout for more sponsors as well. Rob P: We’ve registered our car on the website: Anyone can visit this site, make a donation and receive a tax deductible receipt. All the money goes to Variety. I can be contacted on 0417 497 471 if anyone wants any further information.

Thanks everyone – and good luck with your expedition! Interview by Jo Atkins.

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