Goroke & Gymbowen over the years
On the Edenhope page there are several mentions of the run into Edenhope operated by Bland of Goroke.
Goroke itself is an even smaller town than Edenhope. It is located to its north east and has a population of just 623 at the 2011 census. Nevertheless it boasts a P-12 school which services the area from beyond Natimuk and out towards the SA border, to the north of the Edenhope school catchment and to the south of the Little Desert which is the demarcation zone between it and the catchment areas for schools in Dimboola, Nhill and Kaniva. The town itself relies on primary production for its livelihood.
The family, now in its third generation of ownership, has been in the bus business since Winston Arnold Bland commenced operations in February 1946 after winning a tender to operate a service from Goroke into the Edenhope school. Prior to that Winston had been operating an International truck on freight duties in the district. His son Clive joined him in the venture and drove this run for the next fifty years.
The first bus was a Chevrolet purchased second hand from Ventura Motors in Melbourne. Later second hand Bedfords were purchased from Benders in Geelong and Sydney. However the best known bus on the run is probably the ex Department of Supply Freighter bodied Leyland Leopard acquired in 1973 for $1,100. It had previously been a staff bus at the Woomera Rocket Range in South Australia. It was a very unusual bus to see on a Victorian rural school run but lasted for 20 years.
As part of the rationalisation of school runs in 1995, the Goroke – Edenhope service was changed to run westwards out to Wombelano instead of north to Goroke that run having previously been done by one of the Edenhope operators.
By 1966 Winston had passed the business to Clive and Lorna Bland. Winston himself died on 4 July 1970. In order to maintain a viable business and to support the employment of full time staff to drive and maintain the school buses, Clive and Lorna established a welding business from their depot in the main street of Goroke. This did general repairs, but also built many steel fabricated sheds and cattle crushers in the district. This business was wound down by the late 1990’s.
The school at Goroke has been operating since 1885 when it began with just ten students. Originally a Primary School only, from 1955 it was redeveloped on a new site as a Consolidated school – i.e primary and secondary education (now known as a P-12 college) and has had school runs servicing it since the 1950s. The school also absorbed the pupils from the Gymbowen and Minimay schools which both closed at the end of 1951.
The second run to be commenced was from Minimay and Lemon Springs which also started in 1946. It would have originally carted just the secondary students then primary kids as well from 1952 with the closure of Minimay school.
Two additional runs from the Goroke school started in 1955, One of these was to Nurcoung, the designation of the other is not known as it ceased in 1995 when runs were rationalised. The first new bus purchased was an Austin from Sydney in the late 1950s and another vehicle was a second hand Mack bus, which came from Murwillumbah in NSW.
From sometime in the 1970s, Bland’s also operated a passenger and freight service Mondays to Fridays from Naracoorte to Horsham via Goroke, a 160 km trip each way. Minibuses were used on the run, mostly Toyota Coasters including DRZ 335 and 0417 SO. The service had previously been run by L&T Bretag whose known buses were LER 196 a 1973 Ford Transit and LHZ 865 a 1973 Holden car. Bretag had ceased by 1/7/77 so the sale to Bland probably occurred at about that time.
From 1999, and after suffering from the effects of rheumatic fever for much of his life, Clive Bland retired at the age of 71 and he and Lorna passed the bus business into the hands of the third generation in Stephen and Lynette Bland. Both Clive and Lorna have since passed away. At that time there were three school runs, one into Edenhope and two into Goroke plus the passenger/ freight service mentioned above with seven buses.
The passenger/freight run was sold in early 2005 to KJ & JA Norton of Naracoorte and the fleet downsized to four buses for the three runs but in 2016 the business, now in its seventieth year, continues on.
Fleet details are as follows. The earlier buses were in a livery of white with blue whilst those which have arrived over the last 25 years have been just white. Fleet details are as follows:
Chevrolet/ Grummet with wartime austerity body (8/43) 19 seater ex Ventura Motors, Box Hill 1/46 (this would be one out of FR 860, FU 844 or FX 781 all sold around that time when replaced at Ventura by Bedford OBs)
Unidentified Bedford ex Benders Busways, Geelong.
Unidentified Bedford ex Sydney.
Unidentified Mack ex Murwillumbah.
GVE 524 Austin (FC)/ Syd Wood (1957) B—F ex Sydney
HXO 663 Bedford SB3/ Ansair (B128 1/64) B39F. Sold by 1986.
JBA 176 Bedford VAS2/ Comair (375 12/63) B27F acquired from D. Beattie (later rereg BGG 187). It was sold to a local church soon afterwards.
JJZ 568 Bedford SB3/ Comair (cav12 771 5/66) B35F. Sold by 1986
IQZ 568 Mazda Parkway (1977) B18C/ Sold by 1993.
LER 180 Leyland Leopard/ Freighter (2571 6/65) B45F ex Dept of Supply, Woomera, 1973. Sold in 1994. AGW 973 Isuzu SBR422/ MBS (B255 8/78) B30F. Later rereg 0331 SO. Now sold.
CPD 342 Toyota Coaster (1985) B—C. Sold.
CYY 362 Toyota Coaster (1986) B—C. Sold.
DRZ 365 Toyota Coaster (1989) B22C. Later rereg 0332 SO. Now sold.
EBJ 022 Toyota Coaster (1989) B22C. Later rereg 0333 SO. Now sold.
A second hand Isuzu/ Centurion (424 1/90) B21C. Later rereg 0334 SO. Now sold.
0417 SO Toyota Coaster (2000) B21C. Probably passed with the route service to Norton in 2005
EUV 404 Toyota Coaster (1993) B22C. Later rereg 0416 SO. Now sold.
The current buses are:
0333 SO Hino FB125/ ABM (89043 2/00) B28F
0047 SO MAN 10.220/ A.B. Denning (VM058 31/7/02) C35F 0061 SO MAN 18.280/ Coach Design (505 3/07) C45F
Goroke has two other operators.
RJ Harper & DE Cockroft operated a business in the Main Street. Not much is known of them but the first bus noted was HPV 285 Bedford VAS/ Freighter (4041 1963) B29F. This was replaced in 1982 by BHL 109 Hino AM100 (42238 1/82) B27F by which time the operator was RJ Harper only. However the bus was noted several years later with legals for Cockroft (must be a story there) and it was replaced prior to 2001 by 0528 SO Toyota Coaster B21C.
RJ & BA Hadden from Gymbowen which lies to the east towards Horsham. Gymbowen also had its own school which closed at the end of 1955 resulting in the need for a run into Goroke which is Goroke – Kangawall – Gymbowen. Hadden’s operate the school contract in conjunction with their cropping and grazing property on the Natimuk Road.
Fleet has been
GNH 798 Bedford SB/ CAC “flat screen’ (1956) B33F. Sold in 1979.
ALL 312 Toyota Coaster (1979) B18C Sold 1993
EZT 591 Hino BC144K/ Ansair Tasmania (TP2011 6/93) B36F. Later rereg 0225 SO. Sold 2007. 0225 SO MAN 10.225/ Coach Design (509 3/07) C35F.