For­mer Fin­ley man to em­bark on char­ity trip

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

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.

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