Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2009.
Theodora Eastwood or 'Thea' as she prefers, was driving a transit van for the Melba Centre in Croydon, VIC for several years before leaving Melbourne for the island life with her husband and two young children.
Thea and her husband purchased the Magnetic Island Bus Service in 1978 from Freda and Peter Mears. Thea had never driven a bus and had no experience of running a bus service or dealing with tourists. She purchased her husband's share of the business in 1991.
The original fleet consisted of seven buses; three were 1942 vintage Chevrolets. These buses were unique with their sides open to the elements of the tropics. They featured on many tourist photos. In 1986 Queensland took them off the road as they had single back wheels. She remembers driving a Morris Mini bus when she had 18 burley New Zealand football players on board and wondered why there was no steerage as the back-end was rather heavy. Never-the-less, as expected on any of Thea's tours, a fun time was had by all anyway.
One of the old Chevrolets named "Galloping Gerty" can be found in the Sydney Bus Museum in the suburb of Tempe. Before barge transport to Magnetic Island was available, the buses had to be part assembled on the island. Thea has been operating the business for 30 years supplying a continuous service between Picnic Bay, Nellie Bay and Horseshoe Bay, meeting all ferries and barges at Nellie Bay Terminal. She currently handles 30,000 passengers a month. The service caters not only for the regular urban schedules but also for charter for schools and private functions and, in addition, there are, twice daily, three-hour guided tours for the tourists.
Thea, with her happy, helpful, nothing's too much trouble approach, has become a well-known character of Magnetic Island with the bus service winning tourist awards.
These include the Queensland Tour and Transport Operators Awards 1994 to 2005, including Townsville Hall of Fame Tour and Transport Operator for her achievments in the industry. She employs 18 full-time and casual staff with a current fleet of 10 buses, mostly 54 seat Mercedes. All the buses are individually named adding to the uniqueness of this island service.