Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buster the Fun Bus

While I was in Perth last weekend doing preparation for the Cool School Race Camp I searched for more examples of Public Art which forms a key part of the camp, with the kids having to travel all over Perth searching for things and taking photos to score points.
I went looking for a sculpture I'd heard about of C Y O'Connor at South Beach.
O'Connor was the engineer responsible for building the water pipeline from Perth to the Kalgoorlie goldfields in the 19th century. It is a tragic story. On the day the water should have flowed into Kalgoorlie it didn't arrive on time and in a rash and heart rending decision, O'Connor, in despair, rode into the water at South Beach and committed suicide. The ironic part of this story is that just a couple of hours later the water started flowing into Kalgoorlie and has been flowing ever since, a testament to his vision and skill that sadly came just too late. This unusual sculpture pays tribute to a West Australian legend.

As I was looking for the sculpture I happened to find Buster the Fun Bus, a mobile play van that operates in the Fremantle region, providing resouces and play-leader for pre-school play groups in the morning and after school games and activities for primary schoolers.

The reason this is significant is that in a former life, I created the original Buster the Fun Bus!
When Fremantle hosted the America's Cup defence in 1987, money was given to the Fremantle Children's Service to establish a mobile play van to operate in the Fremantle region. Thanks to Dennis Conner, Australia lost the Cup at the first opportunity, but Buster is still going strong.

I was employed as the co-ordinator of the project and had the job of outfitting the van and supervising it's preparation, and painting which was done by the prisoners at the Fremantle Prison, which has since ceased operating as a prison and is now a popular tourist attraction. They based the images on various characters from children's books but a few of them looked suspiciously like they were the product of hallucinatory substances! I'll never forget the feeling of driving Buster for the first time, I had a grin from ear to ear! You couldn't help but feel happy driving such a cool looking vehicle. I got to spend lots of money buying games and toys and art equipment and all manner of fun things to do with kids.

I had two part-time staff working with me, one in the mornings with the little kids and another in the afternoon with the bigger kids. Buster the Fun Bus, a name I came up with, was an instant success and we attracted large crowds of kids wherever we went.
I was very pleased then to see that some 20 years down the track, Buster is still running and still attracting lots of kids.
The present Buster is the 5th incarnation and as you can see is not quite as colourful and psychadelic as the original.

1 comment:

Justine Kamprad said...

Hi there, I am really sorry to tell you that the government are trying closing Buster as of September. The State gov has removed the funding. I few parents like me are trying to save it. It would be great if we could have a little quote as to why you started Buster and what it did / does for families and kids. Please email me. I have removed the at symbol so I don't get spammed but you get the idea. Justine_travel(at)