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(06/11/2020) - On the 13th of November, all being well, up to 80 vehicles and their teams will gather in Goulburn NSW for the 2020 HireExpress beyond Bitumen Rally.
Among them will be the HARDI Australia’s “HARDI DATTO” team, represented by the Qantas Airbus A330 First Officer Andrew Edwards and his 17-year old daughter Charlotte.
“We bought the car online while we were in the pub,” Andrew remembers. “It was in a pretty sorry state. We’ve had the engine rebuilt and done a lot of other work to it.”
“You feel the bangs when you hit a cattle grid a bit hard,” he laughs. “You close your eyes and try not to remember this car has already cost us …a lot!”
Taking part is much more than a romp along country roads though. Beyond Bitumen organisers are quick to stress it’s a fundraising event for Beyond Blue and the estimated three million Australians living with anxiety or depression. Usually held in March, with the intention to run an additional Rally in May 2020, the event had to be postponed due to border and travel restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The organisers had to make changes to the original itinerary, which would have included the towns in the rural Victoria.
Andrew Edwards says raising funds for Beyond Blue is what keeps the team coming back, and they’ve already been hard at work – including running a Bunnings sausage sizzle in early March that raised $3,100.
With all funds going directly to Beyond Blue, HARDI’s sponsorship of their red Datsun 120B is essential to the team’s participation.
It’s important to HARDI Australia too. This year is the third consecutive year HARDI Australia is back with an old school Datsun, dubbed the Hardi Datto.
This year, for the first time, HARDI has also reinforced the Rally’s message by producing a mental health toolkit for farmers, in partnership with Wellways and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network.
As HARDI Australia’s CEO Bill Franklin explains in the toolkit’s introduction: “While our visible presence in the rural sector involves delivering safe and effective crop protection machinery, we also strive to make a difference by supporting mental health and wellbeing in the bush.”
Andrew Edwards has no doubt the Rally makes a difference and he’s looking forward to meeting the people who live along this year’s route.
“We really like getting out and meeting locals,” he says. “These rallies give us a unique chance to socialise with people in the towns we visit.”
“If you’re a tourist going to a country town, you stop and buy some fuel and maybe go to a caravan park,” he explains. “On the Rally, we get a good chance to sit and talk. “
Beyond Blue is a real conversation starter,” he adds. “We talk a lot about the issue we’re raising money for. We hear a lot about it; we learn a lot about it.”
However the big benefit is raising awareness of issues like anxiety, depression and suicide – especially in the bush.
“The Rally is a fairly large presence,” explains Andrew Edwards. “We’re 200 to 250 people rolling into town and the community are all involved in feeding us and looking after us, as well as in the events that take place around the Rally.”
“There’s good awareness being built wherever we go... Beyond Blue has a good profile and we’re proud to be associated with them.”
The 2020 HireExpress Beyond Bitumen Rally for Beyond Blue begins on Friday, November 13th in Goulburn, NSW. It will visit Braidwood, Nimmitabel, Dalgety, Jindabyne, Cooma, Shannons Flat, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, Coolamon, Narrandera, Lockhart, Walla Walla, Burrumbuttock and finish in Tumbarumba on Monday, November 16th.
Visit the Beyond Bitumen website for more information