Come Saturday Mundy Sattalo is heading off on this year's Mystery Box rally from Byron Bay to parts unknown with a couple of extra hundred dollars in the fundraising pot thanks to the hospitality team at Tenterfield High School.
Students presented Mr Sattalo with the donation during Monday's assembly, choosing another local recipient for the proceeds from the coffees, milkshakes, cakes and slices they put on for the school at their lunchtime cafe. In the past they've also supported the Cancer Council and the local Cancer Support Group.
They've also distributed $50 Tenterfield True gift cards for drought relief in Mingoola, in turn benefiting Tenterfield businesses as the cards are redeemed.
"It's great as a town to see the young people getting in on it," Mr Satalo said.
"This town is in the middle of a drought and following the fires, and businesses and individuals have donated so much. I can't believe it.
"People don't realise how much Tenterfield gives."
Rally participants have to raise a minimum of $3500 to enter, but the Tenterfield teams have raised much more. Mr Sattolo is up to $6000 with donations from Brisbane, Texas, Stanthorpe and Warwick adding to local contributions.
He is part of a large Tenterfield contingent in the rally, along with Matt Arnold, Jack Cowin, Matty Craig and Townsend brothers Jed, Grant and Daniel.
After participating in the last four rallies as a support person, with wife Arlene on board, this year Mr Sattalo is anticipating a more relaxed adventure as a driver. As part of the support crew he worked until 2am each day in vehicle 'triage' before being up at 6am to pack up and helping cars all day on the road while having to navigate through the pack to arrive first at the next stop to set up.
"The lack of sleep in five days is daunting, and you're flat out getting a shower," he said.
"But it's fun. The people you meet from all walks of life, there's no attitude. You make friends for life.
With Arlene off in Italy he's partnering up with mate Dario Pittis in a Mad Max-themed vehicle, to mark the iconic film's 40th anniversary.
Rally cars have to be at least 25 years old (creating challenges for the support crew) but 'Mad Sax' easily meets the criteria, at 45 years of age. The former Willowtown work ute had been sitting in a paddock for 13 years being raided for parts for other cars, but has now been restored (mechanically, if not cosmetically) to arguably a higher standard than many of the other vehicles participating.
All the money from this and the Shitbox Rallies which another local team Rick and Jan Phipps participated in earlier this year, goes to cancer research. Mr Sattalo said he's had 'some bits and pieces' cut out and his brush with cancer was scary enough, without having to fight it.
"It's just a good cause," he said.
Donations can still be made online to the Mad Sax effort.
Over the past nine years the rallies have raised more than $16 million for the Cancer Council, with the cost of administration, cars and camping all borne by the participants.
The 'mystery' part of the rally is that those participants only find out at the start of each day where they're heading, but Mr Sattalo has a sneaking suspicion they might be heading back this way. If that's how it turns out, aside from us being able cheer on the local teams it means a great cash injection to the town, with 150 teams spending money on fuel, food and perhaps a carton of beer or two.
This is the case for any small town in which the rally overnights.
"In one place we emptied the shop," Mr Sattalo said.
"They had more business in one day than the previous six months."