Happy bus a secret weapon

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian
Members of the Kalannie Bulldogs with the Happy Bus.
Camera IconMembers of the Kalannie Bulldogs with the Happy Bus.

It’s been dubbed the Happy Bus and, by all accounts, that’s exactly what its proving to be.

The small central Wheatbelt community of Kalannie may be experiencing one of its driest seasons on record, but the little red bus is one of the reasons why locals are still smiling.

Kalannie Football Club president Garry Crossman said the community was flourishing despite the poor seasonal conditions.

“The season hasn’t detracted from the way the community operates at all,” he said.

“If anything, because there is a bit of spare time, more things are happening, and we are getting together more — that’s the real positive from this,” he said.

Mr Crossman said the football club had often talked about buying a bus for community use but until this season there had never been the time to kick start the project.

“This year is definitely going to be struggle for our farming community, there is no doubt about that,” he said.

“Some farmers won’t even put the header into certain paddocks.

“But because the farming community isn’t flat out on sprayers or tractors, we have had the time to purchase the bus and refurbish it, and now it’s an important part of our community.

“We spent an extra couple of grand on it, getting it up to the ‘very high standard’ of our community expectation.

“Let’s be honest though, she may be a happy little thing but she’s the ugliest bus I’ve ever seen.”

The 20-odd-seater second-hand Mercedes, which is red to match the colours of the Kalannie Bulldogs, has already been on more trips around the central Wheatbelt than Mr Crossman can recall.

“We searched far and wide to find a red bus that matched the team colours,” he said.

“In our town sport is the heart and soul of the community and it’s something that all the family can be involved in, as a participant or a supporter.”

Mr Crossman said launching the Kalannie Bulldogs Supporters Club had been a fantastic initiative for the town, beginning with the building of a supporters kennel at the football oval.

“That was last year’s project where we had an old sea container modified,” he said.

The purchase of the Happy Bus was the next step in keeping up community morale.

“The formation of the supporters club was really just an excuse to get the community together — you don’t actually have to like footy or sport,” Mr Crossman said.

The supporters club then began to travel to inter-town games in a convoy of utes.

“We started by borrowing a school bus but this was a bit restrictive, it wasn’t ours, so we convinced ourselves that owning a community bus was a quintessential part of community existence — we went on a hunt and found the Happy Bus,” Mr Crossman said.

“It has been a great project for the community — something to keep everyone’s minds off the dry season.”

Funded by the farming community, the Happy Bus is also used by the netball team, and has been on golf trips around the region.

“It’s there for everyone,” Mr Crossman said.

“We can throw 20 people on there and move around in a group for anything we choose to do; all you do is chip in a bit for fuel, bring it back and park it up.”

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