The 2017 Shitbox Rally from Adelaide to Cairns was dirty, exhausting, offered very little home comforts and involved lots of long days driving on some of Australia’s roughest roads.
David and Xenia Schraag, Cobar’s entrants in this year’s Shitbox Rally, which raises funds for cancer research, experienced all of the above but are however keen to do it all again next year.
“On Day 2 I thought I don’t know if I can put up with this for seven days,” Xenia told The Cobar Weekly last week.
“and then of a sudden we were in Cairns and we thought, wow that was an amazing experience.”
The pair departed Cobar on May 25 in their old Holden Commodore Schraagadelic Wagon (that they bought for less than $1,000 which is a condition of the rally) and, even before they reached the starting point of Adelaide, they had to make some running repairs to their car.
During the rally they almost cooked the engine, had a flat tyre (but only one for the whole trip) and broke a side mirror, which was a pretty fair effort for the 3,800km trip to Cairns.
All up the couple drove almost 9,000km (they made a side trip to Mt Isa to see family and friends) from when they left Cobar until they returned last week.
David and Xenia, the other participants from the 200+ teams and support crew on this year’s rally faced the challenges of highly variable terrain, remote outback roads and changing climates.
Their route took them over the Oondatta Track and the Plenty Highway and all said it was a truly memorable experience.
Xenia said she wasn’t really prepared for all that could go and did go wrong on the rally.
She said with lots of cars breaking down each day (one car had four flat tyres in one day), they didn’t get to camp most nights until well after dark and one night they didn’t arrive at their destination until 11pm.
And when they did arrive Xenia said they were camping rough with limited toilets and shower facilities.
“That is nothing compared to fighting cancer obviously. I don’t know if it’s meant to put you through some hardship, but it makes you appreciate everything when you get home.”
The pair raised $6,700 to add to this year’s total of over $1.6million.
“We had a lot of local support and people were giving us money all along the way wherever we stopped,” Xenia said.
She said with some donations still coming in, the final tally won’t be known until the end of the month.
In the past seven years the Shitbox Rally has raised over $11.5million with participants directly helping fund improvements in diagnosis, treatment and support for cancer patients.
Xenia and David are hoping they will be invited back next year.
“You have to be invited to do it again. It all depends on what you’ve raised and you had to have the right attitude over the week.”
The couple bought back the Schraagadelic wagon for $250 in the auction at the end of the rally.
“We are not sure if we will keep it for the next rally; it got us there and made it home.”
The pair may however sell it as they are now keen to enter the Mystery Box rally in November which requires cars to be 25 years or older.