Bus 'gunzels' seek home

The Queensland Omnibus and Coach Society celebrated its 15th anniversary this month, reliving past memories and seeking a home for its old buses

Bus 'gunzels' seek home
Bus ‘gunzels’ seek home

By David Goeldner | August 15, 2011

One of Australia’s youngest bus enthusiasts clubs got together at Brisbane’s Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre Stadium at the weekend to celebrate its first 15 years, and to present the case for a home to base its growing collection of antique buses.

Queensland Omnibus and Coach Society (QOCS) Founding President Earl King paid tribute to the members and to the operators supporting the group.

King explained that the Society was looked on with disdain by some operators during its first few years based on stereotyping members as ‘bus gunzels’.

The term gunzel originated in Sydney several years ago as a term for tram or train spotting, later translated over to the bus industry and used derisively, although these days the term is worn with pride by enthusiasts.

Gradually QOCS has built a following over its first decade and a half and now includes retired operators among its membership.

"I think we’ve got a bit of credibility," King says.

"We came from humble beginnings 15 years ago to more than 100 members today," he says.

King says many operators were owed the society’s gratitude for ‘riding in, playing with and photographing’ their buses, and does admit that he is still a gunzel at heart.

But the day had a serious note, looking for options to house its growing collection of old buses – currently 19 – spread across several sites in southern Queensland.

QOCS President Malcolm Knowles explains the society acquired several old buses not required by Brisbane’s tramway museum at outer suburban Ferny Grove.

The old buses were not used as part of the museum’s historical display and had fallen foul of vandalism.

Several QOCS founding members retrieved the buses over a six month period from the site, but in so doing the collection has been scattered around several private properties.

The society’s first donated bus – a Leyland Panther – came from noted Brisbane operator Kevin Doyle.

Panthers were a common sight in Brisbane back in the early 1970s, with Brisbane City Council the largest buyer of the mostly unreliable early low floor buses.

"A lot of people hold onto things from their youth that aren’t quite as large as what buses are, but we enjoy them, and occasionally drive them around." Knowles says.

"And it’s eye opening for some people to see that these vehicles are still around."

The club has developed a charter to preserve Queensland’s public transport history, but to do that it needs a home.

"We’ve had to store vehicles at several places, at Rochedale, Logan Village and Wamuran," Knowles says.

"We need to establish a home for the fleet to enable the public to experience these buses, similar to the Sydney Bus Museum."

Knowles says it is a big task ahead of the society to find a home for the fleet.

Attended by about 50 members, including the first five founders from 1996, the event wrapped with an industry overview from QBIC Executive Director David Tape, a long-time society supporter and sponsor.

To find out more about QOCS and how you can assist the society find a home for its fleet, go to www.qocs.org.au.

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