Former Finley man to embark on charity trip
Former Finley man Lawrence Norton is preparing for the trip of a lifetime when he travels around Australia in his ‘coffee bus’ to raise money for charity.
The 33 year-old aims to raise at least $60,000 for Ronald McDonald House in Parkville by selling coffee from the vintage 1949 Leyland double-decker bus which he has restored to be fit-for-purpose.
The bus will be his home during the trip, fitted with kitchen, bed, shower and toilet. It will retain its original external colours however, which pays homage to its original use as Sydney public transport.
It is expected to be a long trip for Mr Norton, given the former Sydney bus is only capable of reaching a top speed of 45km/h.
While Mr Norton is not sure of the route he’ll take after leaving Melbourne for the trip in October, he said a return to Finley and visits to Jerilderie, Berrigan and Tocumwal are definitely on the cards. ‘‘I’ll probably be away for a year,’’ he said. ‘‘At some stage of the trip I want to take it back to Finley and take it up to Griffith where I bought the bus.
‘‘I’m living on the east side of Melbourne at the moment so the first thing I’ll do is head east and go across to the coast.
‘‘Pretty much every town I go through I’ll be stopping.’’
One of Mr Norton’s first stops will be the men’s wellness weekend in Licola, and the bus is also booked for a wedding in November.
All proceeds from selling coffee during the trip will go to charity.
Mr Norton will also be selling art from the bus as a means of earning personal income, which will help with bus maintenance, food and petrol.
He will also be calling on businesses to sponsor the trip, in exchange for advertising on the bus as it was displayed in its early life.
‘‘The theme of the bus and charity run is to bring family together,’’ he said.
‘‘I chose Ronald McDonald House because when I was young, people I worked with were always like family.
‘‘Whenever I was sick I always had that family support. To help children that need to be in hospital and bring families to support them is really important to me.
‘‘If I can go over $60,000 then that absolutely amazing.’’
Mr Norton discovered the bus in a Griffith quarry about 10 years ago and has been working to restore it ‘‘on-and-off’’ ever since.
‘‘I’ve been smashing out a huge proportion of it but then sitting it aside so I can repay the money,’’ he said.
‘‘Before I brought it down to Melbourne it was stored on Peter Tyrell’s Finley farm, so I have to give a special thank you to him.
‘‘And Harley Court’s Troy Marshall has worked on the brakes and engine helping bring up to roadworthy. So it does have a special connection to Finley.’’
Mr Norton has always been an adventurous person.
He left home when he was 15 years-old, leaving his parents Greg and Virginia behind in Finley.
He originally went to Deniliquin for four years to complete his linesman apprenticeship, and then moved on to Griffith, Hillston and then Melbourne.
He also once sailed across Bass Strait soon after buying a yacht and teaching himself how to sail.
‘‘I had a two hour sailing lesson and sailed the boat back to St Kilda,’’ he said.
‘‘Pretty much on my own, during weekends or any free time I had when it was a light wind, I would just go out sailing.
‘‘Once I had the hang of it, I found a guy who was happy to come with me and cross Bass Strait.
‘‘When I was in Tassie, I did a commercial dive course and did underwater construction for five years.
‘‘After I finished I sailed back with a bloke with zero sailing experience.
‘‘I was living on the boat for a while, so living on a bus isn’t going to be much different.’’
To learn more about Mr Norton’s charity trip, or to follow his progress once he gets going, check out his Facebook page — Twice As Nice Gallery Cafe.