WHEELY GOOD TIME: More than 100 Kirklands Buses employees gathered last weekend for a reunion.
WHEELY GOOD TIME: More than 100 Kirklands Buses employees gathered last weekend for a reunion. Marnie Johnston

Kirklands staff past and present share tales of the buses

MORE than 100 drivers, mechanics and other staff of Kirklands Buses reminisced on journeys taken and friendships shared as they met for a reunion at the East Lismore Bowling Club on Saturday night.

Kirklands Buses, formerly the Kirkland Brothers Omnibus Services, was born in 1939 and ran services across the Northern Rivers - and luxury services further out - for 50 years until 1989 when the fleet split off into various different companies.

Neale Kirkland, the third generation down from the original Kirk- land Brothers, said it was great to see so many faces at the reunion.

While there wasn't any particular milestone to be passed this year, Mr Kirkland said they'd decided to hold a reunion after a few deaths of former workers at the start of the year.

With ill health and old age, organisers Mr Kirkland, Graham Moy, Peter Boyle, Neville Tarran and Judy McIntosh, thought it would be a good idea to all catch up while they still could.

"We had the opportunity to do it, and the club was nice enough to help us out," Mr Kirkland said.

One familiar face at the reunion was Robert "Bob" Knight, of Goonellabah, who began driving for Anderson's Bus Company in June 1974. It was bought by Kirklands in February 1977.

He worked for Kirklands until they closed in 1989, but has continued to drive for one of the companies Kirklands was divided among, Ballina Buslines, ever since, making him the longest serving Kirklands driver, with 41 years on his odometer.

"I never expected to be here as long as I've been," he said.

He said he'd seen a lot of change throughout the years, the big one being the style and nature of bus drivers.

"It's all about being able to give a service - if I can assist them in some way to help them have the best journey possible, I will," he said.

But that driver of the "golden days" was "pretty well a dying race" now, Mr Knight said, with many drivers nowadays just focused on getting their pay cheque at the end of the week.

"The generation has definitely changed," he said.



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