2021 Dirt and Dust run revs up funds for mental health

Dirt and Dust run participants Charmaine Fuller and Michele Keyser dressed up as hippies, with car number nine, nicknamed
Dirt and Dust run participants Charmaine Fuller and Michele Keyser dressed up as hippies, with car number nine, nicknamed "Daffy the Duster".

FOURTEEN themed cars have headed out bush as part of a dirty, dusty, muddy adventure that will see much needed funds raised for mental health.

Set up just four years ago, the annual Dirt and Dust Run is back for 2021 after a successful 2019 run that saw the event raise just over $60,000.

The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, October 20, the cars, paired with drivers dressed as hippies, outback adventurers and even Superstar Saga characters Mario and Luigi, took off from the Dolphin Discovery Centre to take on four days of driving off road throughout the southern half of Western Australia.

"We just need to get this out there and let go of the stigma and get people to talk about what is going on if they need to."

Dirt and Dust Run participant Tarnia Hooper

Participants will visit a list of towns with the goal of promoting awareness of mental health issues in local communities.

Dirt and Dust Run treasurer and event organiser David Keyser said since the event started in 2018, more and more interest had been generated by the community to get involved.

"The timing of the event this year is perfect also with Mental Health Week.

"It's great to have the amount of people involved that we do this year. It's going to be mainly gravel off roads that are usually dusty, but with the weather forecast the way it is, this year is going to be muddy.

The 2021 participants will collectively drive 14 cars in the dirt and dust throughout the southern part of WA over the next four days.

The 2021 participants will collectively drive 14 cars in the dirt and dust throughout the southern part of WA over the next four days.

"It's a really fun five days where we not only raise money for a good cause, but there's a fantastic comradery where everyone has a lot of fun."

When the Mail spoke to a few of the drivers, it was found that a lot of participants were taking part in the run because of their personal connections to mental health.

Dirt and Dust Run committee member and first time driver Michele Keyser said she had family members affected be mental health.

"I believe this run is for a really good cause that is unfortunately underfunded," Mrs Keyser said.

"In my experience there's not enough awareness and support out in the community when things go wrong.

"So it's amazing to help bring that awareness to country towns and see how responsive they are."

Participant Tarnia Hooper said it was her second time participating in the run, this year driving car number 10 nicknamed 'Hot Lips Houlavan', with her driving partner Natarsha Tryl.

Ms Hooper said the van was donated by a friend of a friend of hers who's husband has since ended his own life.

"He actually attempted suicide in this van first and then succeeded another way after," Ms Hooper said.

"She gave us this van as a way to put a positive back into a negative. So it's quite special for us to be able to drive it in this run.

"We just need to get this out there and let go of the stigma and get people to talk about what is going on if they need to."

The event has a variety of sponsors and is supported by the South Bunbury Rotary Club who this year assisted the Dirt and Dust Run with it's own website.

The 2021 Dirt and Dust Run will conclude on Sunday, October 24 with a celebratory lunch at St Aiden Wines in Ferguson.

To donate to any of the cars involved, visit https://www.dirtndustrun.com/teams/.

If anything in this story as upset you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.