The Story of Mudbash

1972's event was very popular and the following year, word had got around and 15 vehicles turned up. The competition was again run by Endeavor Rovers with the understanding that whoever won the event would assume responsibility for running Mudbash the next year. In 1974, 30 vehicles competed and the event was run by Wawoorong, the previous year’s winner, as well as Deakin, who had recently split from Wawoorong. The spending limit of $50 was maintained to ensure a fair playing field for all crews. In this year the original Mudbash movie was filmed, and the event became a permanent addition to the Rover calendar. For the first time a communications network was used – a one channel walkie talkie.

Tangenong ran the 1975 event as they won in 1974. They were assisted by Deakin who ran the canteen and communications, and Centenary who supplied hot and cold showers for the first time. This was a very wet year, and all vehicles were pushed to their limits over the weekend. 1976 was the year the committee was first formed, chaired by Terry Lambert. Rules and regulations were tightened and all vehicles had to be recreationally registered. Fifty two vehicles started the weekend, 24 of which competed in the Tug of War on Monday.

For 1977 through to 1979, 60 entries were allowed to compete. The first program was printed in 1979, consisting of 12 pages and lots of photos. It cost 50 cents. In 1980 the limit of 70 buggies (set by the Forestry Commission) was first reached. 1981 was an important year for all port drinkers as Mudbash Port made its first appearance on the unsuspecting palate.The event was growing substantially bigger every year with the cost of the event fully born by the vehicle entry fees of $65. In 1982 a gate charge of $1 per person was first introduced.

In 1983 the first weekend working bee was held. Previously all work was done by a few volunteers who turned up one Sunday a couple of weeks before the event for a BBQ. Restrictions on drinking hours were also introduced.The size of the event had grown so much that public attention was focused our way with our first centre page spread in the Sun, which appeared on the Monday. 1984 saw Channel 0/28 taking the first video record of the events. It was also the last year of the Night Navigational Tour run in the surrounding bush. The event usually ran for about 50 kilometres but its demise was brought on by safety and legal constraints in that we were breaking just about every known road rule.

Television hasn't forgotten us either after 0/28 started the ball rolling in 1984. The following year a Crew made a video with a more in depth look at the whys and how’s, then Channel Nine had two goes over the next few years, including Greg Matthews having a ride in a vehicle. When anybody thinks about 1989, our first year at Ballan, the thoughts that come to mind will be of mud, rain and car jams. Eight inches of rain fell during the preceding week and ensured a testing weekend - the mud was bottomless and literally sucked vehicles into it.


1990, the on again, off again event, was eventually held at the Ballan tourist resort, which turned out to be completely different with variations on previous events taking place: sprint events, water crossings, mud distance races and the standard Motorkhana and Tug of War. A band and a bon fire were the order at night.

1991 - Mudbash was moved back into the forest at Ballan. We had to camp at the back of the site which meant much longer walk to the Obstacle Course and Hill Climb, and the inevitable traffic jams taking hours to get out on the churned up road. But of course, Rovers being Rovers, the event was again successful. Ballan Tourist Resort was again the venue for the 1992 event.

In 1993 the Rover Section purchased a substantial area of land 30 kilometres outside Yea. Since this purchase Mudbash has found a permanent home. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 the park has seen many changes and additions. Mudbash has had to undergo change as well, with no fires in or on the ground, and no cars on site.

1996 saw a group of old Rovers run the gate for the first time, a new video of Mudbash produced, and two tractors on site as recovery vehicles. 1997 was the 25th Birthday of Mudbash.

In 2002 Rovers informed Mudbash that their insurer was no longer prepared to cover Mudbash, and although an arrangement was made with the Victoria Mud Racing League, only three cars competed that year as all entries had to be 4WD. The following two years saw no motorsport; however Rovers still supported Mudbash as they continued attempting to secure insurance.

In 2005, the wait was over, as Rovers were able to affiliate themselves with the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS). This meant all buggies were required to conform to CAMS regulations; however the racing remained intense just like in previous years.

2010 saw the first international team compete at Mudbash, with a group of New Zealand Rovers entering a buggy.

In 2012, Mudbash celebrated its 40th birthday. A number of activities were organised to commemorate this occasion, including a Chairman’s Challenge race of all the past Chairmen, a museum and a parade of historic Mudbash vehicles around the site.


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