A group of friends from the Bega Valley have just set out on an outback rally adventure with the memory of another looming large over their odyssey.
“Originally I’d signed up with my friend and colleague from Local Land Services Liz Clark,” Brogo’s local Olivia Forge says.
“Not long after we’d signed up for the rally she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and ended up having six or seven months of treatment.
“She was always working towards this rally, this was the thing that was keeping her going, but the myeloma was just too aggressive and she died in August,” Olivia says.
“One of Liz’s last requests was that I continue on the rally but take her daughter Kelsey instead.”
The Mystery Box Challenge is for cars that are at least 25 years old cars. Every day of this 5-day trek is a mystery, with the 150 teams taking part only given the route to their daily destination with breakfast.
The map will take Oliva and Kelsey in a loop that starts and finishes in Dubbo in western New South Wales – the k’s and camping spots in between are unknown.
“We have a very fine 1992 Nissan Pulsar, no air conditioning, no power steering,” Olivia says.
Each of the 150 teams has raised a minimum of $3,000 for the Cancer Council to take part, Olivia and Kelsey have so far doubled that. Their tally currently sits at $6,236 but is growing every day as people hear their story.
Today (November 25) is day one, with the ladies from “Team Zen Warrior Princess” given directions that cover the 495km from Dubbo to Tipla.
“While Liz was going through her treatment we all ended up calling her the Zen Warrior Princess,” Olivia says.
“Sometimes she was feeling relaxed and Zen about the whole thing and other times she felt like a real warrior, like she was going to kick cancers arse, and other times she felt like a princess and was in floods of tears.”
The pair’s Pulsar has also been transformed into a homage to Liz and painted with all the things she loved – native plants, native orchids, dogs, and owls, with the roof emblazoned with a caricature of their warrior spirit.
Local vet, Cassie McDonald helped paint the car, “She is the most amazing artist,” Olivia says.
“And the car belonged to a Bega local, he loved it but he was going to the United States, he wants to buy it back when he gets home, I am not sure he’s going to be able to once we’ve finished with it.”
Team Zen Warrior Princess is grateful for the sponsorship of local businesses – Inspirations Paint provided all the paint for the car, Specialised Automotive fitted a bash plate, fixed the radiator and gave the car a safety check, and Beaurepaires chipped in with new tyres.
“It’s been fantastic,” Olivia smiles.
Traveling alongside the Pulsar across the 2,500km of the rally is a red Toyota Celica with Brogo’s Sue-Anne Nicol and her daughter Darcie at the wheel.
“I did the Mystery Box Challenge last year with Sue-Anne and it was amazing,” Olivia says.
“It’s like a huge family, everyone is so supportive, a lot of people are doing the rally because they’ve lost someone or because they’ve had cancer themselves.”
Sue-Anne and Darcie are known as “Seriously? Seriously!” and have so far raised $7,069.
“And you are expected to break down because the cars are crap,” Olivia smirks.
“So there are people along the way to help get you back on the road and keep going.”
Aside from the physical, geographical, and mechanical challenges ahead, the trip will be an emotional one for Olivia and Kelsey as they remember their friend and mum who died just a handful of months ago.
“Having this project has been really good for me, I just hope what we are doing gives some relief to the grief Liz’s family feels,” Olivia says.
You can follow the progress of both local cars over the coming week and donate via the Zen Warrior Princess Facebook page.
*About Regional content is supported by the contributions of members, including Kiah Wilderness Tours, Sprout Cafe and Local Produce Eden, Kym Mogridge, Danielle Humphries, Pam Murray, Alexandra Mayers, Jo Saccomani, Rosemary Lord, Amanda Stroud, and Olwen Morris. Thank you!