Mem­ory lane a fun de­tour for ‘Clarkey’

Arthur Clarke liked driv­ing the old school bus

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S - emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au Emily Smith

NOT many school bus driv­ers go down in his­tory the way Arthur “Clarkey” Clarke has done in Monto.

Clarkey drove Bimbo, the old school bus, from 1965 to 1971 and de­lighted his old pas­sen­gers by re­turn­ing for the Monto 50th school re­union last week­end.

“I al­ways have a ball when­ever I come back,” Clarkey said. “You wouldn’t have found a bet­ter bunch of kids any­where.”

Clarkey came to town in 1965 with an old Red­lines bus and dur­ing the Christ­mas break he gave it a paint job and let the chil­dren pick the colours.

“They chose a mush­room

Arthur Clarke It was such a nice part of my life when I worked in Monto.

colour for the bot­tom be­cause they thought that wouldn’t show the dirt up as much from the Mulgildie Plateau. Then it was a creamy colour on top,” he said.

“The kids used to sing that song ‘Bimbo, go­ing down to see my girl-io’, but they changed it to ‘Bimbo, go­ing down to school-io’ and that’s how the name stuck.”

Clarkey said most days he had 46 kids on board for his trip from Mulgildie State School, up Se­lene Rd, up the Mulgildie Plateau, down to Lan­g­ley Flats, back up the high­way to the state school – where the pri­mary kids hopped off and the high school kids hopped on – and into Monto.

He still re­mem­bers the fam­i­lies from each stop.

“On the plateau we got the Schultzs, the Be­lows and the Picks, at Lan­g­ley we got the Ste­warts and com­ing back up the high­way were the Gal­loways, the Hart wigs, the Coul­stons and more Ste­warts,” he said.

After leav­ing Monto in 1965, Clarkey drove “a wild mob” of work­ers from Been­leigh to Bris­bane for Skin­ners coach lines.

He then built a 38-foot yacht and sailed it through the Whit­sun­days for years, be­fore buy­ing a 30-foot fifth wheeler car­a­van, which he has lived in for 17 years.

“I’ve done over 300,000km in it, and trav­elled all over Aus­tralia,” Clarkey said.

To­day the van is pulled up on a farm out of Mur­gon.

“I’m an OBE this year – that’s an Over Bloody Eighty,” he said.

But Clarkey still has a bit of spring in his step and cheer­fully talked about how he rode his mo­tor­bike through a barbed wire fence a fort­night ago.

“I’m very ac­ci­dent prone. I still have a lump on my side from when Trevor Pick and Kenny May once tried to put me in the school bus boot,” he said with a laugh.

“It was such a nice part of my life when I worked in Monto.”

PHOTO: EMILY SMITH

GOOD TIMES: Arthur "Clarkey" Clarke is still af­fec­tion­ately re­mem­bered for his time driv­ing the lo­cal school bus, Bimbo, in Monto.

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