Anyone who breaks down on the 2018 Dunga Derby will need to be extra nice to volunteer Floating Mechanics Ed Sparks (left), Andrew Clough and Ross McLeod.
Anyone who breaks down on the 2018 Dunga Derby will need to be extra nice to volunteer Floating Mechanics Ed Sparks (left), Andrew Clough and Ross McLeod. Alistair Brightman

Dungas in for a challenge on four-day rally

BREAKING down in the middle of nowhere is the last thing that 180 entrants on this year's Dunga Derby want to happen.

But, if they do, thankfully they have the likes of Ross McLeod, Andrew Clough and Ed Sparks from Auto Electrical Solutions who have given up being participants on the fourth annual rally to volunteer their time, vehicle and tools as "floating mechanics" instead.

The lads are one of two mechanic teams, including Trevor and Sonia Pronk from T&S Automotive, who will "float" amongst officials, volunteer medical officers, a tow truck, the Road Hog pace car and 46 dungas.

The four-day, 2000km Coast to Country adventure will start from the Hervey Bay RSL car park from 6.30am on Thursday, August 2.

"We will be floating amongst the line of traffic and helping anyone that needs it, getting them going again so they can finish the dunga," Mr McLeod said.

"We just wanted to help out the previous mechanics and give them a break and try and do the dunga in a different way this year.

"It's such a great cause and I like to be involved in every way I can and being a mechanic this year is just another facet of it.

"But, if their dungas do break down, they will have to pay a small fine to the charity for our services," he laughed.

The rally is the major fundraising event for local charity Rally For A Cause, which raises funds to assist Fraser Coast families and individuals with life- threatening medical conditions.

In the last financial year alone, $260,000 in funds was approved to provide assistance to eligible recipients in the region.

Route planning coordinator and original RFAC committee member Leigh Staunton said it's the hard work of all the volunteers that make the rally and the charity such a great success.

"Their help is just wonderful," Mr Staunton said.

"I know the guys well and I know Ross, Andrew and Trevor and co and I know they can do the job, which makes it a lot easier.

"Same with the medics; they are highly qualified people and we did have a situation last year where if they weren't there we could have had quite a serious situation.

"We've got a really great support crew and feel we have all the bases covered."

Mr Staunton has been mapping out this year's secret route for the last eight months and - without giving too much away - believes this one will top the rest.

 

Route planning organiser Leigh Staunton says the dungas will be put to the test this year with plenty of challenging tracks, water crossings and steep hills.
Route planning organiser Leigh Staunton says the dungas will be put to the test this year with plenty of challenging tracks, water crossings and steep hills. CONTRIBUTED

With over a dozen water crossings and a hill that goes for 8km with an 800m elevation, it's sure to be a challenge.

"Last year was touted as being a pretty good trip in regards to where we went, the scenery and the route but I'm more excited about this year.

"We've raised the bar this year and we're really looking forward to it."

Entrants will be "roughing it" by sleeping in a tent, swag or under the dunga, with only limited access to showers in possibly freezing conditions.

"Last year we went north and west, this year we're advertising that it's going to be cold so obviously we're not going north," Mr Staunton laughed.

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"A town nearby to where we are staying on the second night, out of the last 11 night or mornings, has been minus seven or less.

"We're not holding back in saying it's cold."

For the final leg on Sunday, entrants will take part in a homecoming street parade on the Esplanade followed by a final stop on Seafront Oval at about 3pm.

Family, friends and Fraser Coast residents are encouraged to come along.



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