Sunday, November 18, 2007

How a kid grew up to drive his old schoolbus

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia.
MOST kids can only dream about climbing behind the wheel and taking control of the marvellously dependable vehicle that ensures they have the chance of a good education.
But Jason Healey has a place in bayside history as the Redlands schoolkid who grew up to drive the same Redlands Transport schoolbus that took him to school each morning and brought him home in the afternoon.
It was a memorable day when the former Mt Cotton State Primary School pupil realised just about every little boy’s dream.
There he was at last – not only in the driver’s seat but also with reporters taking notes and television cameras "rolling".

JASON says he was 19 years old in 1991 when he was declared as Queensland’s youngest bus driver and worked on the same school service he had used as a child. In 1999, he drove the same bus on another route.
Now aged 36, Jason is still one of the "babies" in the army that operates the main Redlands service under the Veolia banner as part of the State Government’s TransLink system.
"Only two drivers are younger than me and they are both in their thirties – the majority of drivers are in their fifties," Jason says.
Jason doesn’t cop much cheek from his seniors, however, because he is now the operations supervisor at the company’s Capalaba depot, presiding over a fleet of 130 buses, each clocking an average 2500-3000 kilometres a week.
The logistics of putting at least 120 buses a day on their routes – including new services to the shire’s boom southern areas including Victoria Point, Redland Bay and Point Talburpin – are behind Veolia’s current recruitment campaign in our classifieds.

NOW with about 150 drivers, the depot needs at least 20 more, Jason says. The need is so great he will even promise successful applicants the chance to pilot the depot’s 10 new $450,000 Mercedes buses, delivered in October.
That’s a far cry from the old 1979 Bedford Jason that took Jason to school.
We hear a lot about the ‘ageing’ of society but bus driving must be at the forefront and at this stage Jason certainly has no challengers for his special place in history.
He says anyone, regardless of age, may apply if they can get a minimum MR-class licence and Queensland Transport driver’s authority and to meet Veolia’s high standards may apply.
By the way, Jason grew up at Sheldon and now lives at Redland Bay.

THANKS for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How Willys jeep carried George through WW2

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland Australia. Image of 1943 Willys jeep from wikipedia. This jeep carries US emblem. George Rush transported Australian army officers in Willys jeeps in Borneo and New Guinea during World War Two.

A LONG journey through life reflects in George Rush’s voice as he talks about the cycads his daughter, Jennifer Campbell, has advertised for sale in our classifieds.
"I like cycads but these are not mine," George says.
"My daughter is busy so we are taking messages. I think she wants to renovate. She lives at Capalaba."
George is 90 years old. Taking messages is far removed from the labours of his past.

BORN in Kilcoy in 1917, George says he grew up in the country, milking cows. He left school at 14 to cut railway sleepers out of ironbark, tallowood and grey gums from the north coast forests.
"In those days, at 14 you were a man nearly, not like the kids of today," he says.
"When I was 17 or 18 and could drive, I had fruit runs in Caloundra and I went into the food game.
"My parents lived at Mooloolah and I spent a lot of time around Glenview and Landsborough. Caloundra was my main town.
"I worked in Roma Street, Rocklea, for 31 years. In the markets, you work in all the different jobs in all the sections.
"It’s born into you. Wherever you pulled up (in a truck), you’d have to carry the stuff – the bags of pumpkins and spuds were about 140 or 150 pounds (63 or 68kg). By gee, they were heavy.
"I’d carry two cases of apples on my shoulder."

GEORGE had World War Two service as an army driver attached to the 7th Division in Borneo and New Guinea.
His main duty was to transport officers in a Willys jeep, often to the front line to "see how the boys were going".
"It’s not a real funny place to be – shells whistling around and going off everywhere," he says. "We had to stop and dive into a hole to get away from them."
When landing off a barge in Borneo, his jeep, "hooked up to a two-pound gun" sank in the truck tracks but the motor, fully submerged in the ocean but waterproofed, kept going and pulled through the slush.
George still keeps busy around the Cleveland home where he and his wife of 66 years, Audrey, have lived for the past 20 years.

THE couple lived at Coorparoo while he worked at the markets but later moved to Cleveland, then to Stone’s Corner and Camp Hill before returning to Cleveland.
"There’s a lot of work to do around the house," he says. "I have a bit of corn coming up and just had some nice beans. I have been an old bushman most of my life."
George says doctors credit his good health in his senior years to his lifetime of hard work.

THANKS for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. More stories on

Saturday, November 03, 2007

'Gentle missile' goes missing

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image of scrub python courtesy Stewed Thoughts.

A BACKGROUND in aviation shows when Capalaba bus driver Mario Mayerhofer describes his pet snake, Buff, as a "gentle missile".
"He’s very sleek and about 17 to 18 kilograms and he’s all muscle," Mario says, of the 5.5m scrub python.
The missile is missing.
Buff and Kah, his mate of the same species, slid away in the dark of night after a branch dropped on to their cage during a Sunday storm last month.
Four days later, a nearby resident hosing her hedge came face to face with Kah, who matches Buff’s length but at 28kg outweighs him by about 10kg.
The encounter qualified the woman for a $500 reward, which Mario offered on leaflets and posters.

ANOTHER $500 is waiting for anyone who helps Mario find Buff.
Notices in our Classifieds have failed to turn up any leads.
Mario and Kah, who may be carrying Buff’s babies, are both pretty glum right now.
The last time Buff and Kah had babies, 18 big bundles of joy, each 82cm long, emerged from the eggs, Mario says.
Mario’s interest in snakes dates from his childhood in the Bavarian city of Passau, where he later worked as an aircraft engineer and pilot in general aviation, while breeding boa constrictors.
His migration to Queensland in 1992, following his mum and her husband, Nandor and Alfie Farnady, meant a break with boas.
Mario says the three now focus on breeding native Australian snakes, including not just the scrub pythons but other species including tigers, redbelly blacks and king browns – all strictly in accordance with the rules, standards and licensing requirements.

A 5.5-METRE-LONG python of a species that hails from Cape York Peninsula cannot hide forever in an urban environment. Mario simply hopes Buff is staying out of trouble.
"I am worried that he may kill a dog," Mario says. "He will retreat from a human threat but he could give a nasty bite if anyone tried to handle him
"There is the chance he has been hit by a car or someone has done him in, which would be a tragedy."
Mario says he has received a lot of help from bayside snake catcher Geoff Jacobs in breeding snakes.
"Geoff says no dog or other animal around here would touch Buff," Mario says.
The worry about Buff has been hanging over Mario’s head as he has started a new career as a bus driver.
He has worked in Australian aviation at Archerfield, Queensland, and Benalla, Victoria, but says he finally has opted for the security of regular, fulltime work.
But still he thinks of missiles, particularly the one that’s missing.

THANKS for joining me to meet the people and other great creatures in the marvellous community of classified advertising.