End of an era for Sailor Squeak

SETTING SAIL: Ash Dearman, Pat Dempsey, Daniel Gibbs and Ian Lister made up the 2019 team which toured throughout remote South Australia for the rally. Pic supplied: Variety Bash SA

Caroline Hammat

After 13 years, 11 ‘bashes’, three gold doors and raising thousands of dollars for Variety the Children’s Charity Ian ‘Squeak’ Lister is handing over the keys to Car 041.

In 2009 Mr Lister joined Colin Hann in his vehicle, Car 777, for his first Variety Bash SA journey.

The trek took the men to Alice Springs in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the bash.

He accompanied Mr Hann again the following year but due to unforeseen circumstances Car 777 had to withdraw from the rally in 2011.

Having caught the ‘bash’ bug Mr Lister and David ‘Rowdy’ Bellinger purchased their own car in 2012 and prepared it for the next rally.

Variety Bash cars need to be at least 25 years old and, through word of mouth, a 1975 ZG Ford Fairlane was found in a shed in Waikerie.

“It had done a couple of bashes with the Port Adelaide Football Club and had been sitting in a shed for five years when I got it,” Mr Lister said.

The two men promptly got to work on the vehicle with Mark Ferguson at Mac Ford undertaking the major mechanical work.

“We did a fair bit of work on it, put all new suspension under it and had the heads and timing gear done and it was a very good car,” Mr Lister said.

“They were good sponsors, all the sponsors I had between Millicent and Beachport were very good every year.

“It’s for such a good cause and the money goes where it is supposed to go, people are quite happy to donate.”

The rallies are a colourful event with participants dressing up for the occasion bringing excitement to regional and remote communities along the route and destination which varies each year.

The team eventually became known as ‘The Sailors’ but their original outfits for the first two or three years proved a little impractical.

“We went as beachcombers, just in lairy shorts and shirts, but that was a bit inconvenient when it was cold.

“Then we decided that we might go as sailors.

“We got these sailor suits from a costume shop in Adelaide and they were very practical.

“When it was hot you could only wear that and when it was cold you could wear jumpers and jeans underneath.”

After a few years Mr Bellinger decided to step back from his involvement and Mr Lister bought out his share of the vehicle.

Car 041 received the Variety Bash SA Gold Door award in 2018, 2019 and 2021, putting the team among the year’s top ten money raisers.

Unsure of the exact amount he has helped raise for Variety Mr Lister guessed it would be close to $400,000.

“The last year we went we raised $64,000 and the time before that was $52,000.

“The best thing about it is the people you meet, they are all like minded with the same thing in mind.

“Their motto is big kids helping little kids.”

Mr Lister’s last bash was in 2022 and he said he will not miss the commitment it takes to be involved.

“It took up to six months of the year in preparation and raising money.

“The block where I used to store the car in a shed was sold so I had nowhere to put it for a start.

“Talking in the pub one night and Ash Dearman, who had been a couple of times with me, was talking to Stef Pulmer about selling the car and that is how the sale came about.”

But the 79 year old Beachport man said selling the car and stepping back from the ‘bash’ will not free up any time.

“I’m flat out collecting all the cans and bottles around Beachport for the Lions club and in winter time I’ll be wood cutting for them.”

Stef Pulmer purchased the vehicle last year and is currently preparing Car 041 for this year’s rally from Renmark to the Gold Coast held over eight days in August.