Keeping your shit together
The Shitbox Rally, the national charity event that challenges teams of two to battle the dusty and dry outback in cars worth less than $1K (also known as a shitbox), is now in its 10th year. To celebrate, rally officials challenged “shitboxers” (as participants are affectionately known) to a route from Perth to Sydney – via Uluru – a distance of more than 5000km, and across four states.
Founded in 2009 by James Freeman after he lost both of his parents to cancer (just 12 months apart), the rally is now the largest independent fundraiser for the Cancer Council nationally, and in 2018 broke fundraising records reaching $1.974 million in donations. This year the bar has been set higher – $2 million.
“This being the 10th Shitbox Rally in Australia I felt celebrating it with a day for each year was appropriate,” says James. “Also, spanning the width of this magnificent country is a great celebration of the outback, its communities and the fundraising teams in the rally. It will indeed be a celebration of achievement for the last decade.”
On Wednesday 8 May 2019 a convoy of 275 cars and 550 participants left Optus Stadium in Perth. They, and their shitboxes, are due to arrive in Centennial Park, Sydney between 1pm and 3pm on 17 May.
Throughout the journey the shitboxers travel through wild and untamed parts of the country’s heart, stopping in at small towns and Indigenous communities. They watch the sun rise over the desert and mulga, and race emus along dirt tracks. Shingleback lizards on said tracks can bring the impressive convoy to a stop, and sunsets are soaked up like the red dirt is into the shitboxers’ skin.
“It’s an exhilarating and exhausting 10 days,” says rally participant Tania Pettitt, who played bride to her fiance’s groom during the event. “We’re getting married later in the year but it was suggested we share ‘fake nuptials’ with our shitbox family, and it was a privilege to be celebrated by so many people who over the years have grown to mean the world to us.”
The 550 participants were also treated to dinner under the stars at Uluru, and the incredible Field of Lights installation by the internationally celebrated artist Bruce Munro. Overwhelming in size, covering more than seven football fields, it invites immersion in its fantasy garden of 50,000 spindles of light, the stems breathing and swaying through a sympathetic desert spectrum of ochre, deep violet, blue and gentle white.
For more on the rally and how you can get involved, head to Shitbox Rally HQ.