Bear takes on the Variety Club Bash

Laura Keys — 3 July 2015

Caravan World regular John 'Bear' Willis will once again don his long wig, shiny flares and John Lennon glasses to take part in this year’s 25th Victorian Variety Club Bash.
Bear, who writes the monthly 'Switch Bait' fishing column in CW, and his mates Don Hailes (Mezzmo) and Roy Seamark — also known as the 'Hippy Krishnas' — will set out on the annual northern pilgrimage in their old 1976 Bedford van to raise money for Variety — The Children’s Charity.


Each year, the crew dresses themselves and their old van in a particular theme and sets out on a long trek along with other zany characters.

Last year, they ended up in Noosa, Qld, but it took four days just to get to Sydney as the course travels offroad, through properties, national parks, and other challenging countryside.

“All Variety vehicles must be at least 30 years old and only 2WDs are allowed,” Bear explained. “It’s an amazing fleet of old Holdens, Valiants and Fords topped off with Chevys and Chryslers. Other highlights include mini Peterbilt trucks, old fire trucks, Fiats, Renaults and more.”
Along the way, the Bashers visit schools and regional destinations, spreading funds, equipment, cheer and goodwill to kids and communities in need.
“There’s books for outback libraries, disability equipment, support for struggling communities and assistance for worthy individuals who may not be quite so lucky
as the rest of us and need a little boost to help make life a little more manageable,” Bear said.
“The Bash brings out the best in people with Lions and Rotary Clubs, Women’s Auxiliaries and even remote station owners among the many good natured Australians providing meals and support along the way.”


Last year, the Victorian bash raised more than $1.25 million and it injects up to $30,000 into each local town it visits. That’s 300 motel beds, 85 tanks of petrol and 600 meals per stopover!
This year’s Bash will leave Melbourne on August 12 and will arrive in Port Douglas via Cooktown on August 22, with stopovers including Wagga Wagga, Coonabarabran, St George, Charleville, Longreach, Hughenden and Cobbold Gorge.


For more information or to donate to the Variety Hippy Krishnas, visit


Variety Club Bash charity fund raising


John Willis