Old scholars to take part in 2023 Variety Bash fundraising adventure

A trio of Blackfriars old scholars is preparing to hit the road for a week-long jaunt in a somewhat dated Mitsubishi Starwagon, all the while channelling free-style Mexican wrestlers.

Together, Oliver Neate (BPS’01), Danny Gilbert (BPS’97) and Matthew Haskett (BPS’97) are The Luchadores and, as such, will take part in the 2023 Variety Bash – their debut in the popular annual fundraising event.

Blackfriars Communications Officer Shannon Caton caught up with Oliver Neate to learn more about the upcoming fundraising adventure.

What made you decide to do the Variety Bash and what do you hope to get out of it?

It’s been a bucket list item for both Matt and Danny for some time. After a few false starts, it looks like they’ll finally get there. The Variety Bash experience offers a great balance between giving back to the community through fundraising and having some time away with your mates. We’re all really excited about the opportunity to hang out, have some fun and do some serious fundraising for Variety SA, the children’s charity supporting kids and families through sickness, disadvantage or living with disability.  

What inspired the team name? Will you be dressing up with the masks and such?

We were allocated Car 619. The ‘6-1-9’ is a famous wrestling move of Rey Mysterio, a famous Mexican wrestler. This was the genesis of the Luchador theme. We’re not in the best shape, but we’ll be getting into the Variety Bash spirit and dressing up. Costumes, including masks, have been ordered!

How did the three of you become friends? Any shared standout memories of your time at school?

We were friends at school, remained in contact after school and reconnected again with our boys all attending Blackfriars (Gus Neate, Year 2, Violet Neate, ELC, Seb Haskett, Year 5, Ollie Gilbert, Year 2) . I’m a few years below Matt and Danny, but shared a home group with Matt. I also know Matt by virtue of his three brothers, two of whom were in my year level. After school, Matt and Danny studied physio together, until Matt decided to change courses and studied civil engineering.

A standout memory for me was being rescued by Matt at the Senior Swimming Carnival after being unable to finish the 50m freestyle. I wasn’t the best swimmer in Year 8 and I think I could have made the distance, but Matt made the mercy call.  

As old scholars, how does it feel to now have children at Blackfriars?

A sense of pride, but also a strong sense of connection and community. I had an open mind about where my children would go to school but after attending an Open Day, Blackfriars just felt right. It was a natural fit and full of familiar faces. Such is the Blackfriars community, when we were struggling to find a car suitable for the Variety Bash, fellow old scholar and Variety Bash veteran Rocco Zappia (BPS’94) was able to help.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The opportunity to participate in the Variety Bash is only possible through the help and support of our wives, families and generous donors. All have been very generous with their time or money. The sacrifices that have been made to enable this to happen are not lost on us. We are very grateful and will make the most of the experience as a result. Additionally, getting involved in fundraising for Variety SA has also reminded us how fortunate we all are to have happy and healthy children. It is easy to be distracted by the pressures of work and home life but we do not take this for granted. We are very lucky.


The trio will take this Mitsubishi Starwagon on the Variety Bash.

About the Variety Bash

In 2023, Variety Bash participants will set off from Port Adelaide on 12 August, travelling through towns including Barmera, Broken Hill, Pinnaroo and Mannum, before arriving in McLaren Vale on 19 August.

The Variety Bash raises money for South Australian children who are ill, disadvantaged or live with special needs. Since 1989, Bash participants have raised more than $48 million.

“We believe ALL kids deserve a fair go,” the Variety website states. “Variety – the Children’s Charity supports kids and families who are facing many challenges through sickness, disadvantage or living with a disability. Our work allows kids to gain mobility, to get out and about in the community, to communicate, achieve independence and increase their self-esteem. We make sure the kids who miss out can always join in.”

The Variety Bash was created in 1985 by adventurer Dick Smith when he took a group of friends for a drive he called ‘The Bourke to Burketown Bash’. The Bash is generally an eight-day drive in the country with your mates. It is NOT a race or rally; it is a madcap event designed to put the fun into fundraising. Vehicles must be in standard condition and shall be models with a minimum age of 25 years. The drivers and crews, however, are anything but standard issue with most Bashers following the one major rule – don’t take it seriously and have fun! The Bash is the entrant’s reward for a year spent fundraising for the children of SA who really need it.

The Bash today has not changed from its original concept. It began in SA in 1989 and has seen Bashers travel through much of our beautiful country during this time. Over the past 33 years, the SA Bash alone has raised in excess of $48 million (net) for South Australian children who are sick, disadvantaged or live with special needs!*

*Information courtesy savarietybash.com.au


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