ENGINES roared to life at the crack of dawn as dozens of cars launched from the Hervey Bay RSL car park.

It's become a sight Karlie Holloway is all too familiar with, having watched last year's launch from the sidelines as an organiser.

But this year, Ms Holloway is hitting the road as a member of the Katastrophy Wives crew in her first Dunga Derby event.

More than 180 participants in almost 50 zany, sticker-covered cars are now making their way from the coast to the country.

Dunga Derby 2018 start -
Dunga Derby 2018 start - "Katastrophy Wives" - (L) Joy Beacham, Karlie Holloway, Gaye Cullen and Kerry Spencer. Alistair Brightman

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

The four-day, 2000km rally takes drivers on a mystery journey through regional Queensland.

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 about 3pm.

After the 6.30am start yesterday, Ms Holloway said it was an "eventful morning" between the crew.

"Along Tuan Rd, our car Lady Penelope had a bit of a hot flush and overheated!" Ms Holloway joked.

"It was temporary, but it was all fixed up and ready to go before we resumed the driving.

"We ended up clearing six water crossings and all other kind of terrains like rocks and sand during our drive.

"But everyone is upbeat and having a wonderful time."

Ms Holloway told the Chronicle yesterday the team had ended up travelling through one national park and made their way through the Gympie region.

"Because we're using the back roads, it's not until we come onto bitumen we get a bit of bearing," she said.

"I've known some of the families who have been recipients of the funding, and to see it go back into the community is amazing.

"I would urge people just to donate a little, because if everyone gave $10 it would add up to an enormous amount."

Teams are given driving instructions by the organisers as they head out along the road.

Dunga Derby 2018 start -
Dunga Derby 2018 start - "Queenslander" - Nikole and Jayson Bosworth. Alistair Brightman

Route planning co-ordinator and former RFAC committee member Leigh Staunton previously told the Chronicle this year's course was "sure to top the rest".

He said more than a dozen water crossings were part of the course, along with a hill that goes for 8km with an 800m elevation. Entrants will be "roughing it" by sleeping in a tent, swag or under the car, with limited access to showers in possibly freezing conditions.

In February last year, Rally for a Cause made headlines to help transform the backyard of young Fraser Coast resident Aedan Harris, who has+ cerebral palsy.

The charity built a pool, swing and trampoline for the young boy with about $100,000 of the funding raised. The Dunga Derby raised about $100,000 in 2015, $200,000 in 2016, and $240,000 in 2017.

And rally organiser Kerry Spencer said the group hopes to top their record.

Ms Spencer, who has been participating in the Dunga Derby for the past three years, said the event was the culmination of about eight months of hard work between the 10-person committee.

"These people donate a lot of time in order to put it together, right from the people who organise all the groups to hiring the trucks," Ms Spencer said.

She said the funds from the rally would go a long way in helping support people with "out-of-pocket living expenses" and to help ease the financial burden created by sudden illness.

"Sometimes it's very unexpected, so we just try to take the pressure off them with whatever we can get, even if it's costs for medical treatment," she said.

"It's different every year, all the towns we visit and the activities we participate in are never the same.

"Because it's become an annual event, everyone understands what they're doing and the whole community gets behind us."

The cars are accompanied by a delegate of rally officials, medical officers, a tow truck and the Road Hog pace car on the journey.



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