Hi, my name is Olga, and together with my husband Terry, have been working hard to convert a 40 foot bus to a motorhome. We bought the bus in December 2009, and it sat in the driveway, pretty much untouched for most of 2010. 2011, was a very different story. We decided that we would get stuck into it and have spent most of our spare time working on one thing or another trying to get it ready so we can set off and travel around Australia soon. I'll start my story at the beginning and work my way through to the present day.
I was born in Italy in October 1963. My family moved around a lot because of my fathers work, so maybe that's why I have the travel bug. My parents had 5 children, we were born in 3 different countries and no 2 were born in the same state. We migrated to Australia in 1969, and instead of getting off the plane in Melbourne, like we were supposed to, my parents decided they would get off in Brisbane, because they heard it was a better place to bring up a family. Well, that put a spin on things, because when they left Italy, all the paperwork was prepared and there were people meeting us in Melbourne. A job had been arranged for my dad, there was a house for us, mum was booked into a hospital (she was 8 months pregnant, but told the authorities she was only 6 months because she wouldn't have been able to fly otherwise, although they weren't stupid and knew she was lying) The 2 older kids were booked into school, and we didn't show up. So, we arrived in Brisbane, not one of us spoke a word of english, and my parents had no money and no idea what to do or where to go. I don't really know what happened but we ended up in a hostel somewhere and we stayed there for about 3 months until the housing department built us a house. I loved it there, all our neighbours were migrants and all us kids used to get on really well, going to school together and playing together in our back yards. It was a different world. I'm not sure how long we stayed there for, but of course my parents had to uproot us and we moved closer to the city. We had 2 more moves over the next few years, but I guess compared to some people it wasn't too bad. I went to 4 primary schools in 7 years so that was ok. We had a few more moves and I ended up going to 2 high schools but I went to the first one, then we moved to Adelaide, then back to Brisbane, so I went back to my original high school. In 1981, just before my 18th birthday, my parents moved us to Tasmania. I hated being so far away from my friends, but I loved living in Tasmania. It was a totally different lifestyle. By 1992, I had outgrown Devonport, and craved the excitement of a bigger city. I didn't want to go back to Brisbane, however. Living near the coast in Devonport, I had grown to love the ocean. However, the Gold Coast didn't appeal to me so I chose the Sunshine Coast. So I packed up and together with my dad and younger sister, we moved up to Queensland where I met many wonderful people. I had a good life there, working in child care, going out with friends and just enjoying myself. My brother moved up about six months after us, and then my sister moved away, so together the 3 of us pooled our money and bought a house together. It worked well. 3 adults living 3 different lives in 1 house. My brother met a lady and moved out, so it was just dad and me in the house. Then I met Terry in 2001 and by the end of that year, we had sold our house, Terry had sold his and we bought a house together. I introduced Terry to Tasmania at Christmas 2002 and we bought a house in Devonport, near my mother and the rest of my family. We went back to the Sunshine Coast, put our house on the market, and in May that year, we packed the car and made the drive back to Tasmania. It has been good here. We both got work and with the profit from selling the house in Queensland we were able to pay off the house in Devonport. A couple of years later, we bought an investment property and then in 2009 we sold the first house we bought in Devonport and moved into what was the investment property, bought the bus, and parked it up the side of the house.
Terry was born in Nambour Queensland in September 1960. He was the youngest of 8 children. His parents had a pineapple farm in nearby Woombye. When Terry was about 6, his dad passed away. Two years later, Terry's muim sold the pineapple farm and bought a house in Nambour, where Terry still lived when we met in 2001.
As yet unnamed. Terry and I can't really decide on a name yet. We have come up with lots of ideas, but nothing that jumps out at both of us. I would prefer a one word name, something easy that just floats off the tongue, Terry is more adventurous and is coming up with words spelt backwards so when you look at them in the rearview mirror, they make sense. Until we come up with a name, I have been calling it our midlife crises Terry calls it The Project.
The chassis was built by General Motors Holden in February 1979, and the bus itself was built by Custom Coaches in Guildford N.S.W. It's serial number was issued on 22nd July, 1980. It had it'w early working life in Parramatta and was brought to Tasmania by Phoenix Coaches in 2002, where it became bus number 3, and was used mostly as a school bus until mid 2009 when it was taken out of service and replaced with a new bus. We are keeping the number 3 for sentimental reasons. Maybe from now on I'll call it number 3. (well until we come up with something better anyway.
I had quit my job in November 2008 and for a while we were managing on one wage, then the global financial crisis hit, and Terry was told he wasn't allowed to work overtime anymore. We sold our house and decided to move into the investment property. Then Terry lost his job, so we decided to rent our house back and I would work out of the investment property. By December, Terry was going stir crazy, and he seemed no closer to getting a new job, so we decided to bite the bullet and go and see what busses were available for us to buy. We had a choice of a couple and because Terry always had his heart set on a 40 foot bus, we bought number 3. I am still unsure if we made the right decision. The other bus was 38 foot, but had a boot and bins. Number 3 had a tow ball and bull bar, but no boot or bins. I guess we can always put those in later somehow, but they would have been so handy to have now. Anyway, we decided we would buy number 3. We were told they would take the seats out for us and give us as many coach seats as we wanted if they could have the ones that were in it. We said no problem and $8000 was the agreed price. We then agreed on a date to go back with the check, and they would deliver the bus. So Terry went up with the check on December 11, money changed hands. number 3 was delivered the following week. Wouldn't you know it, Terry got a job not long after that. So he went from sitting at home bored, looking forward to starting work on converting the bus to working full time (casual) and not having any time for the bus. In April, we decided that it was silly to pay rent so we made the move into the house I had been working from. This made it easier to work on the bus, because it was just outside, and we didn't have to make a special trip here. By May work had slowed down a bit, and Terry had time to remove some of the windows and the middle door and close them off with steel. Not much more was done then, winter set in, and the rain started, Terry had night shift and so slept during the day, and it was dark early, and way to cold to be out there with no power. Number 3 became storage for stuff we didn't have room for in the house. As the weather improved, went through all the stuff we had stored, and sold things off. Finally we were able to move around in there again. Next job was to pull up the smelly old lino. That wasn't always easy, but we managed it. Terry made up a king size bed frame and we put it in the bus, then we decided that king size was going to be way too big, se reluctantly, we down sized to a queen size. In January 2011, I think we made an unconscious decision to get a move on and start doing something before we woke up one morning to a pile of rust beside the house. We started off with the floating floor. Choosing it was the easy bit. It's not as easy to lay as they say it is, but we managed it. Then it was time for the wiring. We chose an electrician, and he came in and made a start. He worked for about 3 hours, then left telling Terry to get the walls back up and call him and he would come and finish the job. A few days later we got his bill in the mail, so I paid it. Then I called him about a week later to tell him we were ready for him to come back and finish. Then we waited, and waited and waited.He had promised us he would get it all finished by Easter. Easter came and went and we were still waiting, so I called him, got a story, so I decided to call around and see if I could get someone to come in and finish the job. That turned out to be harder that I thought because a lot of people didn't want to finish what someone else had started. I finally found someone who was willing to do it, and they had the job finished in 2 days. What a relief.