Driving 2300km in a 50-year-old LandCruiser – all in the name of drought relief

Towns across southwest Queensland will be treated to a rare convoy of classic LandCruisers next week, all in aid of raising money for drought-hit communities.

Aug 28, 2020, updated Aug 28, 2020
Drought fundraiser Brent Reeman with his 1973 Toyota LandCruiser. (Photo: Kristy Gogolka)

Drought fundraiser Brent Reeman with his 1973 Toyota LandCruiser. (Photo: Kristy Gogolka)

Four-wheel-drive enthusiast Brent Reeman put the finishing touches on his restored Toyota LandCruiser this week, preparing the classic machine for a mission some would describe as life-saving.

The prospect of a 2300-kilometre Brisbane to Tambo round trip in a bid to raise money for rural charity Drought Angels has certainly been enough to inspire like-minded “LandCruiser nuts” who will join Reeman on his quest that leaves on Saturday.

The plan is to arrive in Texas on the Queensland-NSW border the first night, before moving on to Dirranbandi, Cunnamulla, Augathella and Tambo.

The return trip to Brisbane will take them through Charleville, Yuleba and Chinchilla, sure to delight locals at the sight of a classic convoy putting the State’s still lingering drought plight firmly back in the headlines.

While some parts of the State have received welcome winter rainfall in recent weeks, two-thirds of Queensland remains drought declared, with little end in sight as Spring and searing summer temperatures approach.

Reeman’s “Long Drive for Drought” was meant to start in May, but like plenty of other events was scuttled by COVID restrictions limiting movement across the State.

The delay hasn’t been all bad, however. The intervening months have meant more time to get organised, promote the event, polish off those dusty outback roadsters and raise money.

Even before a key is turned on Sunday to roar those classic cars back to life, the convoy will have about $30,000 in the tank, $10,000 shy of Reeman’s original goal.

Each of the 21 participants will be carrying empty eskies as well, buying provisions from local communities and bringing with them donated collectables to auction off in further aid of the drought fund-raising effort.

Reeman, who has forged a long career in delivering services to rural and regional Queenslanders, most recently with the Local Government Association of Queensland, said he was motivated to try “something meaningful” when the nation was gripped by drought and bushfires over Christmas.

The holiday break had also given him time to finish restoring his 1973 LandCruiser, part of Toyota’s fabled 40 Series that were manufactured from 1960-2001 as genuine ‘paddock-bashing’ workhorses, a far cry from the luxury vehicles that sell today for upwards of $100,000.

“It’s noisy and a bit uncomfortable with its solid metal doors and frame, but I was really keen to take it for a long drive,” Reeman explained to InQueensland.

“And then I thought, watching all those bushfires and people doing it tough, ‘maybe this is how I can help do something meaningful rather than just making a donation’.”

The managing director of Peak Services, LGAQ’s service delivery hub, then took to Facebook to connect with other LandCruiser fans, who jumped at the idea to make a difference.

“From there it just kept going and growing,” he said. “I’m blown away by the response and can’t wait to hit the road.”

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