It started with one question nearly a decade ago: “What are you doing in May?”
Now it is a firm fixture on the yearly calendar of good mates Dean Rothapfel and Craig Welsh.
The Newcastle duo were last year joined by Raymond Terrace butcher Chris Drane, also Welsh’s future son-in-law.
The trio will set off from Bar Beach on May 21 for the 2017 NSW AHA Variety Bash.
They will be among over 80 teams taking part in the five-day journey.
“Craig had done bashes in late 90s, early 2000s,” Rothapfel said.
“He got back into it in 2007.
“He was one of my customers and just said to me one day, ‘What are you doing in May?’.
“He said, ‘Do you want to come bashing with me?’.”
Rothapfel did not need to be asked twice.
“We’re good mates and it’s so much fun,” he said.
“We enjoy raising the money and then we have a lot of fun together; to drive out there and be in the middle of nowhere with this solitude, it’s really great.”
Together they have raised just over $23,000 this year. In nine years they have raised close to $160,000.
In all, Rothapfel said this year’s event would go close to raising $1million for Variety: The Children’s Charity.
“I’m lucky, I’ve got two healthy kids, but there’s a lot of families out there who are doing it tough,” he said. “To see the look on their faces is very rewarding.
“We all like to think we’re big burly, boofhead blokes but when we do some of the appeals, it does choke you up.
“I did a fundraiser down at Woolworths at Jesmond last year and this lady came up to me and said, ‘I just want to thank you for the work that you do’.
“We’d bought her daughter an iPad for some assisted learning.”
They have spent the past year fundraising through barbecues, bowls days, movie nights and raffles.
“It’s 12 months of fundraising and five days of fun,” he said.
“There are so many charities and so many good causes out there, but this is something which is human and you can actually see where it all goes, that’s why it’s so important to me.”
The Bash visits several towns including Gilgandra, Cowra, Narrandera, Maimuru, Yass, Taralga, Bathurst, Aberdeen and Muswellbrook, before returning to Newcastle on May 27.
The trio are in car 525, a 1975 e12 BMW.
You can follow their progress at www.car525.webs.com