The wheels on the Stewart and Sons bus have been going 'round and 'round for almost 73 years, with the local family proud to service the region's travel needs through their iconic company.
Currently operated by Graham and Julie Stewart and their son Ryan, the dynamic trio have kept the family company going from strength to strength and will be celebrating more than seven decades in business next month.
Graham said his father, uncle and grandfather all established the company in 1948.
“They came from Brisbane and originally purchased a little business called Jorgensen Bus Company,” he said.
“It started out with three old Bedford buses and has since grown to the extensive fleet we have today.”
Graham said he had been in the bus industry all his life, having grown up surrounded by the vehicles ever since he was a child.
“I actually started driving buses at nine years old,” he said.
“Up in our tip yard there was a little laneway with the workshop on the side, I used to get in the bus, drive up the laneway and back around.”
It's what started Graham's passion for bus driving which has continued to this day.
“I love doing it mostly because of the kids and the wonderful people I get to meet,” he said.
“People are always happy to have a chat and tell you their stories, it is enjoyable.”
While Graham focuses on the bus driving and workshop side of the business, his wife Julie is making sure operations continue to run smoothly from the office.
She said she was proud of the extensive range of services the company offered within the Bundaberg Region and beyond.
“We offer school bus runs which go from Bundaberg to the outlying areas of South Kolan, Elliott Heads, Coral Cove, Innes Park, Moore Park Beach, Childers and back to Bundaberg,” Julie said.
“We also operate a charter service to take groups on trips and an urban service six days a week from the city to coast and coast to city.”
Julie said what made her role in the company extra special was the fact that she got to work alongside her husband and son.
“We work closely together and all have our own skill sets,” she said.
“We are a very tight-knit family and are so proud to continue what the rest of the Stewart family originally started.”
Graham and Julie's son Ryan is now the fourth generation of the family to contribute to the local business.
Ryan, who along with his dad drives the buses, also manages the engineering section of the business and said it was what propelled him into his apprenticeship as a young man.
“The engineering section was created off the back of us doing our own maintenance and mechanical work,” he said.
“We continued on into making tray bodies, tippers and flat tops and that's where my trade came in.
“I started as a young guy in the workshop and moved up into learning how to weld, spray paint and more.”
Exciting new additions to Stewart and Sons
Ryan said more recently the company had introduced some exciting new additions, including a new, high tech coach with plenty of gadgets on board.
“This coach is wonderful to drive and feels like sitting in a lounge chair,” he said.
“It features two USB charging points at every seat and TVs which come down from the roof.”
Ryan said it was sure to be a popular vehicle within the fleet, much like their bright green bus which had been affectionately nicknamed Kermit by its regular passengers.
“One passenger even purchased a green Kermit the frog plush toy for the bus which now sits up at the window every day,” he said.
“It's colour is based on the theme of the Brisbane Q Connect brand and is used to transport people to and from the shops and other areas within the region.
“Not only does this bus transport human passengers, it is also used by a very special guide dog who has his own seat behind the driver's side.”
Ryan said being part of the family business not only meant he got to work alongside his mum and dad every day, it was also a great opportunity to gain skills and meet lots of people in a diverse role.
“Working in both the engineering and bus driving side of the business is great because there are so many different things to be involved in,” he said.
“I can go from being in the workshop to picking up school kids in a bus and taking them on an excursion to Tinaberries.
“It really is a fantastic place to work.”