For­mer lo­cal returns on his dream char­ity trip

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

A 12 year dream has fi­nally be­come a re­al­ity for Lawrence Norton, with the for­mer Fin­ley man start­ing a trip around Aus­tralia in his fundrais­ing ‘cof­fee bus’ two weeks ago.

The 34 year-old is rais­ing money for Eli’s Gift, a char­ity that al­le­vi­ates the fi­nan­cial bur­den on fam­i­lies with sick chil­dren, by sell­ing cof­fee from his vin­tage 1949 Ley­land dou­ble-decker bus.

Mr Norton has com­pletely re­stored the bus, fit­ting it with a kitchen, bed, shower and toi­let.

He has re­tained its orig­i­nal ex­ter­nal colours, which pays homage to its orig­i­nal use as Syd­ney pub­lic trans­port.

The for­mer Syd­ney bus is only ca­pa­ble of reach­ing a top speed of 45km/h.

Mr Norton dis­cov­ered the bus in a Grif­fith quarry 12 years ago and has been work­ing to re­store it ‘‘onand-off’’ ever since.

Once the bus was com­pleted the for­mer lines­man quit his job in Mel­bourne in Jan­uary, and has been liv­ing in the bus ever since.

When his ve­hi­cle was fi­nally reg­is­tered at the end of March he hit the road, and De­niliquin was one of his first stops last week.

He started his tour of Aus­tralia by at­tend­ing the Bendigo Tiny Homes fes­ti­val be­fore trav­el­ling through Rush­worth and Moama.

Mr Norton made his way to through his old stomp­ing ground in­clud­ing Fin­ley and De­niliquin, and caught up with the SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS Field

‘‘For me it’s like the movie of Dreams,’’ he said.

‘‘In that movie the main char­ac­ter Ray sees a vi­sion of a base­ball field in the corn crop and every­one thinks he’s lost his mind but it turns out to be a big suc­cess.

‘‘I saw the bus, got the pic­ture in my head and all of the pieces even­tu­ally came to­gether.

‘‘This bus is my Field of Dreams. I’ve had this vi­sion since I first saw it and now that it is on the road the dream has come true.

‘‘The De­niliquin River­side Car­a­van Park al­lowed me to park for the night free of charge, which is what this trip is all about.

‘‘It’s all about doing nice things for oth­ers and in re­turn I have ev­ery­thing I need.

‘‘Now I’ve sold ev­ery­thing I own I’m the hap­pi­est I’ve ever been.

‘‘I’ve al­ready raised $13,000 for Eli’s Gift which is just amaz­ing.’’

The Twice As Nice Gallery Cafe bus raises funds through the sale of cof­fee and com­mer­cial ad­ver­tis­ing on the bus.

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 came to Deni for four years to com­plete his lines­man ap­pren­tice­ship at Great South­ern Energy (now Essential Energy) be­fore mov­ing 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.

‘‘It doesn’t worry me that I’ve quit my job and leav­ing ev­ery­thing be­hind,’’ he said.

‘‘I live off the sale of my merchandise and pho­to­graphs. I have a printer on the bus that prints out my photography work, so I’m all set.

‘‘My last big ad­ven­ture there was no land, so I’m not too wor­ried this time.

‘‘If the bus isn’t work­ing then I have land that I can get out onto, dur­ing the sail­ing trip I didn’t have that safety net.’’

To learn more about Mr Norton’s char­ity trip, check out his Facebook page — Twice As Nice Gallery Cafe.

Lorie Norton has ren­o­vated a 1949 Ley­land dou­ble-decker bus to be his home, and his base for rais­ing money for the char­ity Eli’s Gift as he trav­els around Aus­tralia.

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