History: Looking Back

Looking Back: The Bulli Railway Bus

Lance Brown with a Dion's bus in 2003.

Lance Brown with a Dion’s bus in 2003.


PUBLIC transport has moved forward in leaps and bounds since Lance Brown drove the Bulli railway bus in 1927.

Lance was one of the Illawarra region’s early bus drivers and revealed his memories in a 2003 Looking Back story in the Northern Leader.

Living at Tarrawanna, he was 93 at the time.

Lance was given his first job driving a bus for Ivo Bunker at the age of 17.

“Ivo built an aluminium bus body on a T model Ford chassis and I drove it for him,” Lance said.

Nothing unusual about that, even though buses were as rare as hen’s teeth. But what really was unusual, was the fact Lance never had a driving license.

“At the time I didn’t have a license and one day I was at the (Bulli Railway) Station and a policeman named Terry Lyons said if you come here with the bus tomorrow without a license I will boot you up the backside,” he said.

The newly employed bus driver, in his regulation long white trench coat and cap, went back to tell his boss.

Ivo Bunker immediately wrote a letter to a “certain” Wollongong police officer, Lance recalled.

“I got on the Austinmer to Wollongong bus and handed the letter to this policeman and he wrote my license out and I caught the bus back home – Never had a driving test,” he said.

Read the full story at the Looking Back website.

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


2 thoughts on “Looking Back: The Bulli Railway Bus

  1. Lance is an amazing gentleman, I spoke to him today- he was my Pops best friend, – Lance is now 103 and sharp as a tack.. and inspiration ….


    Posted by D Watts | June 10, 2013, 2:54 pm
    • Thanks D Watts. What a pleasant surprise to learn that Lance is still with us… 103! Wow…. and sharp as a tack to boot…. I remember visiting him for this interview back in the early 1990s, and taking him down to the Dion’s bus depot at Fairy Meadow to take the photo to go with the story. His stories were entertaining, interesting and have made a great contribution to the region’s history.


      Posted by Mick Roberts | June 11, 2013, 1:43 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 965 other followers


%d bloggers like this: