Shitbox Rally 2016 takes the road less travelled

SHITBOX Rally 2016 will be taking a new route through the valleys, mountains and open plains to discover for the first time ever in the rally’s history, Bass Strait and Tasmania.

Four hundred and fifty participants will take in the rugged and challenging landscapes of Australia, all to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

The rally route, first organised by Adelaide’s James Freeman in 2010 after losing both his parents to cancer, changes every year. Last year participants tackled the Birdsville Track on its way to North Queensland, while this year teams will kick off their adventure from Australia’s sugar capital, tropical Mackay in mid-north Queensland, touring south through the Australian outback, several states and small country towns to eventually arrive in Hobart, southern Tasmania a week later.

Alongside quintessential Australian sights, the rally in 2016 will also include two new milestones for the event – a ‘Shipbox Rally’ leg, that is, for the first time ever in the rally’s history teams will be crossing the tumultuous seas of Bass Strait by ferry; and for the first time, Tasmania and its unique wilderness will provide a backdrop of lush fields and alpine forests in contrast to the dirty and dusty outback roads Shitbox Rally often passes through. For James Freeman, founder of the rallies, the Tasmanian wilderness with its untamed beauty has long been calling.

“This is the 7th year of Shitbox Rally with another route that crosses the country. I have seen more of Australia than most and I know I have only scratched the surface. Even with six years behind us, this year will still be unique with all new stopovers plus travelling through the Victorian high country, the crossing of Bass Straight and the drive through Tasmania. It is promising to be another spectacular year and I can’t wait to get back to my second home – the remote outback roads of this sunburnt country,” James Freeman said.

Starting in Mackay on May 7, the 200 shitboxes will travel 3500km down the length of Australia to Blackall QLD (proud-owner of the historic Blackall Woolscour the only fully intact steam-powered wool washing plant left in Australia),Thargomindah QLD (on the edge of far western Queensland’s desert areas and home to Australia’s first hydro-electricity scheme), Tilpa NSW (on the banks of the Darling River, famous for its true outback Tilpa Pub and infamous for its bushranger heritage), Cootamundra NSW (birthplace of cricket’s greatest batsman, Sir Donald Bradman), Dargo VIC (one of Victoria’s most remote towns, in the high country of the Alpine National Park), the modern, sunny bayside suburb of Port Melbourne VIC, and overnight to Devonport TAS, Tasmania’s busy coastal city and the gateway to some of the state’s best natural treasures including Cradle Mountain, before crossing the finish line in the state’s capital, Hobart.

Key dates for this year’s route include:

May 7:   Departing from Mackay, Queensland and arriving in Blackall, Queensland

May 8:   Arriving in Thargomindah, Queensland

May 9:   Arriving in Tilpa, NSW

May 10: Arriving in Cootamundra, NSW

May 11: Arriving in Dargo, Victoria

May 12: Arriving in Port Melbourne, Victoria

May 13: Arriving in Devonport, Tasmania via the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’

Arriving in Hobart, Tasmania.

To learn more about the rally please visit


About Shitbox Rally

Shitbox Rally is not a race but rather a challenge to achieve the unthinkable: to drive cars worth $1000 or less across Australia via some of its most arduous roads — all to raise money for cancer research. The rally was founded in 2009 by James Freeman after both of his parents died from cancer within 12 months of each other as a way of raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer – a disease that now affects so many people. Over the past four years, Shitbox Rally has raised over $6.1 million for cancer research, making the rally the largest independent fundraiser for the Cancer Council.

The rally is a reward for all the fundraising the dedicated participants do to help find a cure for cancer and it’s a chance to meet like-minded people and see our vast and beautiful country in a totally unique way. To qualify to be in Shitbox Rally, supporters must have raised a minimum of $4000.rally

This year marks the 17th Shitbox Rally. Previous rally routes include 2015 Canberra to Townsville via the Birdsville Track, 2014 Perth to Darwin via the Gibb River Road, 2013 Adelaide to Fremantle via Uluru, 2012 Melbourne to Cairns via Innamincka, 2011 Brisbane to Darwin via the Savannah Way and 2010 Sydney to Alice Springs via the Oodnadatta Track.For more details please visit

Shitbox Rally is expanding globally with the first international destination confirmed as New Zealand, in February 2016. To register for 2016 Shitbox Rally New Zealand, or to find out more information, visit

An additional $798,000 has also been raised for Cancer Council Australia over the past three years of Mystery Box Rally, a similar concept also created by James Freeman. Known as Shitbox Rally’s mad baby brother, Mystery Box is more of a boutique rally with fewer teams, a shorter distance and less days travelling. Unlike Shitbox Rally, this rally takes care of finding the cars and each location is a mystery, adding to the excitement and adventure of the drive. For more information please visit


Rachael Finch to host weekend wellness escape

WESTIN Hotels & Resorts’ well-being advocate Rachael Finch will host a two-day retreat, designed to inspire and help guests pursue their well-being, in Melbourne on 16-17 April 2016.

Combining movement with relaxation, The Westin Melbourne guests will leave feeling better than when they arrived.

Over the course of the weekend, certified health coach, TV presenter and model Rachael Finch will reveal her approach to improving and maintaining health and well-being. Passionate about dancing as a way of keeping fit, Rachael will also lead a 90-minute dance class to get guests moving.

Packages for Rachael’s Westin Wellness Escape cost AUD$359 per person or $249.50 per person based on two people sharing and are available for booking via The Westin Melbourne website.wellbeing

The Wellness Escape includes:

• One night accommodation in a Deluxe Room
• Dance class led by Rachael & hear all about her approach to wellbeing
• A mindfulness yoga class
• Three course dinner on Saturday hosted by Rachael, incorporating seasonal & fresh produce
• Superfoods inspired breakfast with Rachael on Sunday

For more information on the weekend itinerary click here.

What: Weekend Wellness Escape hosted by Rachael Finch
Where: The Westin Melbourne
When: 16-17 April 2016


Step Back in Time with Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

THIS year is one of reflection and celebration for Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with the luxury heritage hotel turning 50.

The first 5-star hotel to open in Sydney during 1966, the hotel will mark this impressive milestone by inviting guests to embark on a journey of the historic Wentworth Hotel.

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth general manager Wayne Taranto said: “We are extremely proud of the hotel’s heritage and this year we will fully embrace the beginnings of The Wentworth Hotel with a variety of celebratory hotel activations throughout 2016.”

The site of The Wentworth Hotel has fascinating origins, from a publishing house for The Australian newspaper in the early 1800s to a boarding residence. Following a fire and transformation of the building to a hotel with a magnificent ballroom, the majestic venue hosted King Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor during the early 1920s.


In 1950 Qantas Empire Airways negotiated an interest in the hotel site, beginning a new phase. In 1961 approval was granted for Qantas to build a new 400-room hotel next to Qantas House in Chifley Square. The new Wentworth Hotel was completed in 1966 and became the outstanding first 5-star hotel in Sydney.

“The hotel will release a limited edition remembrance booklet and video with original footage of the hotel opening and its evolution throughout the five decades, as well as a selection of anniversary offers for our valued hotel guests,” said Wayne.

“We can’t let the year end without honouring the official opening day of the Wentworth Hotel on 14th December 1966. Therefore on that day, we will host a grand celebration in our iconic Wentworth Ballroom. Details of this event will be released later this year.”

Over the years, The Wentworth Hotel has hosted many international dignitaries and celebrities, such as Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Other visitors have been Prince Charles and Princess Diana, numerous film and sports stars as well as the first men on the moon.

The hotel’s 50th anniversary offers touch on every area of the hotel inviting past and present guests to stay at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth during 2016.

50th Anniversary Luxury Leisure Escape

Re-discover the romantic city of Sydney with Sofitel’s Magnifique Romance Package. For the occasion, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth has tailored this package to create an unforgettable anniversary experience priced from $400* per night per room.

This luxurious package is inclusive of:

  • Anniversary themed mini high-tea selection upon arrival including Ronnefeldt tea
  • Breakfast served in-room every morning
  • The luxury of time, with late check-out until 4.00pm

50th Anniversary Dining Offers

Executive Chef Boris Cuzon will re-invent some of the most popular dishes in the history of The Wentworth Hotel. Every quarter, Chef Cuzon will re-design one iconic dish representing one of the past five decades and seal 50 years of memories.

  • Throughout 2016, Garden Court Restaurant will feature the most famous dishes from the past five decades. Until 31 March 2016, the iconic steak diane can be enjoyed at Garden Court Restaurant and from 1 April Boris Cuzon will re-create the 70s iconic chicken bordelaise.
  • Every guest that celebrates a 50th Birthday or anniversary will be surprised with a complimentary glass of Veuve Cliquot for every 3-course lunch or dinner menu ordered.**

50th anniversary Wentworth High Tea

The traditional ‘Wentworth High Tea’ will be transformed into an anniversary themed masterpiece, especially for the birthday celebrations.  Executive Chef Boris Cuzon has created an array of exquisite sweet delicacies bursting flavour and colour such as raspberry and pistachio macarons, lemon tartlets, ‘The Wentworth Cheesecake’, chocolate and lime choux, opera cake and mini pavlovas. Each High Tea includes an exclusive, limited edition teacup and saucer from iconic designer Cristina Re’s new range, ‘To Paris with Love’ inspired by her love of all things Parisian.

  • $79 per person including a glass of Veuve Clicquot and Cristina Re’s designer tea-ware.
  • Offer available from 1 May to 14 July and 1 November to 31 December 2016. Bookings are recommended and subject to availability.

50th Anniversary Conference Offer

As part of the celebration, let Sofitel Sydney Wentworth entice you back where it all began and host your next function at the hotel. To mark the 50th anniversary, for every 50 rooms booked per

Make your booking before 30 April 2016 for any residential conference held from 2nd June – 30th September 2016 and also receive a 10% discount on any audio visual equipment provided by the in-house production team. Delegate packages start from $95 per person.

*50th Anniversary Luxury Escape is subject to availability and conditions. Anniversary themed amenities for Magnifique Romance Package are only available until 30 December 2016.

**Dining offer valid for Lunch & Dinner during opening hours of Garden Court Restaurant until 30 December 2016. Subject to availability and conditions apply. Bookings are required.

***Offer available for residential conferences booked by 30th April 2016 and held from 2nd June – 30th September 2016. A minimum of 20 rooms per night required to be eligible for the conference offer and 50 rooms per night for the 50th anniversary incentive. Subject to availability and valid for new bookings only.

The history of the site of The Wentworth Hotel

In 1800 the site of the first Wentworth Hotel in Lang Street became part of a developing area of the new colony of Sydney called Church Hill. In 1824 three substantial, two storey terrace houses were built in Lang Street. The last terrace, No 3 Church Hill, became the future Wentworth Hotel. William Charles Wentworth and Dr Wardell launched The Australian newspaper which was published from No 3 Church Hill in 1833.

In 1854 a boarding residence was operated on the site which became known as Wentworth House. In 1882 Mary Hayes purchased Wentworth House and renamed it the Wentworth House Family Hotel. On Christmas Day in 1888, fire destroyed Wentworth House. In 1901 the lease on the Wentworth Hotel was given to Donald Samuel Maclurcan and remained in the Maclurcan family until 1950.

The Wentworth Ballroom was added and opened in 1920. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor after abdication, danced in the new ballroom on a number of occasions. By 1925, the hotel was a well established and popular destination and was expanded to 100 rooms and further expanded in 1940 to 200 rooms.

In 1950 Qantas Empire Airways negotiated a controlling interest in the hotel, thus beginning a new phase in the development of the hotel. In 1961 approval was granted for Qantas to build a new 400 room hotel next to Qantas House in Chifley Square. The new Wentworth Hotel was completed in 1966 and was the first five star hotel in Sydney. In 1982, the hotel was resold and further refurbishments were done.

In 2002 AccorHotels began managing the hotel under the Sofitel brand to bring it to what it is today, a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of Sydney CBD.