THE Variety B to B Bash is all about vintage cars – but veteran participant Beryl Driver has made her own piece of history during the popular event.
The 84-year-old from Bilgola Plateau, NSW, will complete the 4400km Variety B to B Bash for the 20th time this August, becoming the oldest driver to take part in the event.
This year will be the second time she has made history at the race after leading the first all-female crew during her first drive two decades ago.
Beryl and her team, The Mermaids, are preparing her nautically themed 1963 EH Holden station wagon for this year’s event, which will take place from August 12-21, starting in Bonnyrigg , NSW, and finishing in Braitling, Alice Springs.
The parade of more than 100 colourful, pre-1988 cars will travel through outback NSW, South Australia and the Northern Territory, stopping at a number of locations including remote schools and towns to donate resources.
Also the owner of a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, Beryl has always been a lover of all things automotive.
“I’m a keen roadtripper and always have been,” she said. “I came from a trucking family and learned to drive on a semi-trailer.”
Beryl had wanted to drive in outback rallies when she was younger, but never got around to it because of marrying and starting a family that included two sons, a daughter and two foster daughters.
When she heard about the Variety bash, she asked her mechanic son to keep an eye out for a suitable vehicle.
He located the Holden and the owner was kind enough to sell it for just $3000 despite initially asking for much more.
Beryl has some incredible memories of her two decades on the road, ranging from amusing to amazing.
“We went to a school a few years ago in Arcadia Valley that only had five of them (students), so we all went in school uniform. The men looked very funny.”
At a rally about five years ago, Beryl’s car broke down just outside Bathurst, NSW, and she was forced to leave it at a petrol station and to hire a rental car, only to find her car waiting for her on the side of the road later in the rally.
As it turned out, a wealthy and kind participant made arrangements for the car to be repaired, including adding a reconditioned gearbox, and for it to be driven to their current location.
But Beryl said every moment of cameraderie and community spirit during the rally was matched by the remoteness of empty outback spaces.
“You can travel a long way and not even see another bash car; it’s not as though they are all in a convoy. A lot of the men leave earlier and try to go as fast as they can, but we like to stop for a talk if we see children along the side of the road.”
Beryl’s involvement has allowed her to raise plenty of money for charity and given her an opportunity to blaze a trail for other women
“The first year I started, ours was the only all-woman crew and the following year there were seven all-woman crews.”
Each car must raise at least $8500 to enter and all participants must pay their expenses.
So far Beryl’s group has never raised less than $30,000 – and she is extremely grateful for the ongoing support of her community.
- Variety – the Children’s Charity supports youngsters aged up to 18 living with a disability, chronic illness, facing financial hardship, geographical isolation or in need of critical care – www.variety.org.au/nsw/variety-bashes