Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2006.
Kevin Kirkland’s association with buses began at the age of five sitting on his father’s knee driving (steering) buses into the shed of his newly acquired bus run from Evans Head to Lismore in 1938. Evans Head later became a very large training base for the RAAF so the bus fleet grew quickly from two to six. However, by the time WWII had ended, Kirkland Bros. were left with a well-worn fleet of three Fords, two Reos and an old Daimler.
1945 saw the arrival of the first semi-trailer bus to the fleet (seat 62, stand 30). Kevin worked as a conductor on this as his first paid job (£1 a week) travelling to and from Lismore High School while completing his leaving certificate. Kevin was able to get his bus licence on the 10th Jan 1950, five weeks before his 18th birthday and has been involved in the bus and coach industry ever since. Today he still drives but also instructs bus and coach drivers.
After his father’s passing, Kirkland Bros became a Pty Ltd company with Mr Jim Kirkland as chairman. Kevin and his two brothers, Clarence (Chic) and Earle became directors in 1966. The company went from strength to strength to reach a fleet of 139 (38 coaches) and a staff of over 150. Operations included carrying 7,000 school children every day, interstate express services from Brisbane to Sydney, Australia-wide tours and charters and, through six travel centres, Kirklands has operated group tours around the world. Several of these group tours were industry-oriented to Japan, USA and South America.
Kevin was made a life-member of the NSW Bus and Coach Association and Queensland Bus and Coach Association for his work as a delegate for many years. He represented these associations on the Pacific Highway Task Force for 10 years from 1986 to 1996 finally getting approval for $2.3 Billion for the 10 year upgrade in the March 1996 Federal Government election.
In 1986 Kirkland Bros coaches was sold to Waugh and Josephson. Kevin and his brother Earle stayed on as general managers. This was to continue on through three more owners (Bells Group, Bond and J Gilbert) until Kevin retired in 1998.