Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Barbara Florence Connor (Barb) was born in 1949 in San Matoe, California USA. She came to Australia, her mother's birth place, to work as a Kindergarten Teacher to travel the big country in school holidays. Her first Centralian Safari Coach tour was as a passenger in 1970 with Grenda's Bus service. Lance Grenda was the Coach Captain with Peter Hopgood the courier. Passengers were unaccustomed to cooking on a camp fire, so they pooled their money and asked Barb to be their cook. She loved it and excelled at it.This led to a job, where she could both travel Australia and get paid for it. From that point Barb worked as Safari Cook for four years with Grendas during the school Holidays.
In December 1974 Barb started full time with Lance at Grenda's Bus Service as cook on camping tours. Her first tour was to Darwin. Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974. They only reached Winton in Queensland before having to rewrite the itinerary so the tour could continue to a different destination. Lananda Tours was born on 1 July 1975. The old Bedford buses were replaced with a new Denning Coach. Lananda did their own tours as well as subcontract work for other companies such as Grenda's, AAT, Hoys, Evergreen and Camping Tours of Australia. In those days much of the work was with school groups. Lananda had overweight problems and, in 1979, Barbara helped Lance design a 15-foot trailer to help with this issue. A radical idea of side doors each side of the big trailer meant the camping gear could be packed separate from the kitchen and supplies. It worked very well. Lananda still had weight problems so a new 45 foot DenAir with a lazy axle was ordered and commissioned in February 1980. Barb continued to travel all over Australia with Lananda. The coach's lazy axle didn't help in deep sand but they always managed to reach their destination.
Barbara also planned tour itineraries which included leaving the coach at a main point and joining four wheel drive tours to Cape York, island stays on Fraser Island and Coach and Trailer trips by boat to Tasmania for a 28 day Tour. She compiled a commentary book for each tour they did in Australia.
Lance Grenda was Barb's main influence in the industry. Such was their friendship that they worked together for 30 years. Lananda Tours was retired in 2003 but Barb did some school work and the occasional short trip around Victoria. Lance passed away in 2006. Barb retired at this time and returned to working in Primary Schools and volunteering at Abbeyfield.
Barbara says Working in the coach industry from 1970 to 2000s was a wonderful time. The early days on the road were full of challenges, the mud, deep sand, dirt roads and dust in everything. The friends made in those days are still friends and help keep those good and bad times in mind with stories told at Australian Long Distance Coach Crew reunions.