Maroochy Quays

Long drive for drought – Taking the wheel to aid farmers

GemLife site manager standing next to Toyota LandCruiser

HEATH JOHNSTONE IS IN FOR A ROUGH RIDE WHEN HE SETS OFF FOR A 3000- KILOMETRE ROADTRIP THROUGHOUT OUTBACK QUEENSLAND LATER THIS YEAR, BUT IT WILL ALL BE FOR A GOOD CAUSE. 

The GemLife Maroochy Quays Site Manager and his wife Victoria are gearing up for what Heath describes as a `trip of a lifetime’ in his 1974 model 40-series Toyota Land Cruiser. The couple will drive to 18 towns across Queensland for the first time in a mode of transport devoid of modern conveniences such as air-conditioning. 

“It is all part of the Long Drive for Drought fundraising event, which was founded in 2019 to help disaster and drought-impacted communities across Queensland, with funds raised going to charity partner, Drought Angels,” said Heath. 

He said everyone taking part – which is expected to be up to 50 vehicles – will be driving mostly 40 series Toyota Land Cruisers which had a long production life ranging from 1960 to 1984 and represented a wide variety of powertrains and body styles throughout those years. 

“To enter, the vehicles have to be either the short-wheelbase 40 series, the 45 series – which was the truck used by a lot of farmers, or the 47 series Land Cruisers which were a troop carrier with a long-wheel base,” explained the four-wheel-drive enthusiast. 

The Series 40 is a model close to Heath’s heart. 

“They are seen as an icon of four-wheel drive vehicles having proven themselves as reliable and tough,” he said. 

“The 40 series vehicle I will be driving on the road-trip is a 1974 model in an almost original blue colour. It’s about the seventh one I have owned throughout my life. My passion for the 40 Series Land Cruisers began back in New Zealand with my dad who owned a 1977 model.” 

Heath said while the vehicle lacked luxuries, he had added power steering, a five-speed instead of four-speed gear box, and later model brakes. 

This year’s drive, to be held from 26 August to 3 September, will see the convoy travelling 3000 kilometres, mainly on back roads, beginning at Calliope and taking in Duaringa, Clermont, Muttaburra, Winton, Boulia, Cloncurry, Kynuna and finishing at Longreach. 

GemLife is sponsoring Heath’s fundraising efforts with a $1500 donation as well as paying for the petrol costs.  

Heath said that by participating in the major fundraising event, which aims to raise $100,000, he is looking forward to heading to outback communities and raising funds to help those in need.  

If you would like to help Heath raise money for Drought Angels, please visit the Long Drive for Drought website at www.longdrivefordrought.com.au and click on the `Donate’ button.  

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