• Aeroplanes, cars and characters combined at Essendon on Saturday to launch the Variety FunFlight Safari 2020. (Jack Clemens)
    Aeroplanes, cars and characters combined at Essendon on Saturday to launch the Variety FunFlight Safari 2020. (Jack Clemens)

Two of Australia's more adventurous children's charities–The Variety Club and FunFlight–have joined together to create one large fundraising cross-country outback safari.

Launched at Essendon Airport last Saturday, The Variety FunFlight Safari 2020 is a 10-day air adventure scheduled for August beginning at Essendon and finishing at Great Keppel Island in QLD. The Safari will actively participate in the 30th anniversary of the Victorian Variety Bash. The Bash is not a race nor a rally, but about 100 cars of 30 years and older driving through the outback raising funds for children in need along the way.

The 2020 Safari will visit iconic Australian locations including Deniliquin NSW, Renmark and Wilpena Pound SA, and Birdsville in QLD.

Michèl Verheem, Founder of FunFlight, said the opportunity to link up with The Variety Club was logical given the synergy between the two organisations.

“The Variety FunFlight Safari 2020 is a opportunity for us and for Variety to raise extra funds for the same type of charities," he said. "We both deal with children touched by adversity together with their families."

Verheem has challenged Australia's general aviation community to get on board the safari and be part of a major fundraising effort.

“I call on all pilots in Australia to sign up and to roll up your sleeves," he said. "Together we can become a flying force and turn the Safari into our fundraising part of the Bash. Of course, we'll stop every night and do the socialising together as well!”

Variety Victoria board member and bash veteran Ken Pryor added “We're looking forward to a great event. We're traveling about 4000 kilometres and going through some iconic parts of the country. For those who haven't done it, it's a bucket-list trip. It is really great country to go and see.”

The Safari launch last Saturday saw the apron at Essendon the unusual sight of not only aircraft taxiing to the terminal and proudly displaying their new FunFlight Safari livery, but also wildly decorated classic cars accompanied by their drivers in costumes including Cavemen, Austin Powers and Sesame Street. It was a small taste of a greater event to come.

The Variety FunFlight Safari 2020 is scheduled to leave Essendon on 12 August and arrive at Great Keppel Island on 21 August, going via Deniliquin, Renmark, Wilpena Pound, Marree, Birdsville, Longreach, Springsure and Yeppoon.

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