Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.
At 75 years young, Geoff Sawyer reluctantly retired in 2006 after nearly 60 years in the bus business. Geoff’s father purchased Carie’s Bus Service," consisting of four buses, in 1948 and renamed it Coomealla Bus Lines. Geoff was experienced in driving all manner of vehicles on the family horticultural property, transferring those skills to bus driving with ease, with no requirement for an endorsed licence in those days.
Geoff set off in 1956 for England for a few months and returned nearly two years later to find his father’s interest in the business waning. Geoff rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in. Running buses in the 1940s and 50s was very different from today. Many of the roads travelled were unsealed, inclement weather playing havoc with the timetables. The dry times and the road corrugation and sand were hard on the suspension and mechanicals and many long nights were spent in the workshop rebuilding engines or replacing gear boxes.
Geoff recalls the transporting of migrants from Europe who came to the area to work on fruit blocks in the late 1950s. Often they could not speak English. They would board the bus in Mildura and on reaching Coomealla, Geoff would drive around shouting out the names of the block owners. Many times he was not understood and would find the bus half full when he got back.
Geoff purchased the business from his father in the late 1950s growing it to a fleet of 13 buses servicing predominantly the NSW side of Sunraysia, linking Wentworth N.S.W with Mildura Vic. The mainstay of the business for many years was the contract with the NSW Education Department providing transport for students to and from schools in the Wentworth Shire. The shire encompasses 26,500sq kilometres and included a round trip of almost 200kms to get primary school students to Palinyewah School and older students to Coomealla High School.
Geoff has always had high praise for his drivers, a loyal bunch, many of them remaining with him for years. Geoff and his drivers have driven to destinations all over the country, on school and charter trips, including to the Snowy Mountains Scheme while it was under construction. Geoff’s favourite charter clients were the members of the CWA who he recalls were the 'nicest bunch you could get on a bus'.
From 2007 Sunraysia Bus Lines have kept the wheels humming.