Tinsel time at Ballarat

For six years straight, school bus operators Kyle and Simone Hester bring Christmas cheer to Ballarat

Tinsel time at Ballarat
Tinsel time at Ballarat

December 19, 2012

Christmas season is in full swing at Ballarat in regional Victoria as the town’s school buses are decked with boughs of everything festive.

For the past six years, husband and wife duo, Kyle and Simone Hester, owners of Heritage Buslines, have spread Christmas joy to the kids of Ballarat with their festive school buses.

Leading up to the Christmas school break, Heritage’s two Volvos were dressed head to toe in reindeer horns, tinsel, lights and ornaments.

The Christmas bus tradition began after Simone started hanging up hand-made Christmas decorations she had received from her primary school passengers as presents inside the buses.

"I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time of the year and I want to spread the joy," she says.

"The more decorations we put up, the more excited the kids get."

The couple have come up with a special Christmas hat making competition for the local kids. The competition has grown to be so popular among the school kids that they spend the weeks leading up to Christmas coming up with one outrageous design after another.

"I would pull up at each bus stop and the kids would be waiting there beaming with their huge hats," says Simone.

"One girl even engineered flashing light ornaments around her hat – it was amazing and lots of fun."

Heritage Buslines is a family owned and operated business that has been servicing Ballarat and Victoria for over 17 years. The second generation company was originally founded by Kyle’s father Vern Hester. Today, it operates three school runs in the area of Buninyong as well as day charter services for weddings, corporate functions and tourism.

"I love the interaction with the kids," Simone says.

"You’re not just driving them to school, you get to hear about their day-to-day experiences and fundamentally you are watching them grow up.

"You’re not a parent, but more of an objective person in their lives – someone that’s easy to talk to."

Kyle and Simone are also known to decorate their buses at other celebratory times during the year.

Last Halloween, for example, one of the buses went on a ghost tour with the bus decorated in an eerie theme to match.

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