Six years ago Bill Georgas saw potential in a dilapidated off-road bus that he found lying idle and set about transforming it into what he calls the ‘yacht of the land’.
This impressively large vehicle, weighing 13.5 tonnes and standing 3.8m high, 7.5m long and 2.5m wide, has no problems sailing down the main road.
A mobile home away from home, it handles the flat open road right through to the white sandy dunes at Stockton Beach near Newcastle.
The spaceship-like qualities of the steering and dashboard would have no trouble fitting in at NASA’s mission control. They, like everything else in the bus, are built to suit Bill’s functional capabilities.
Having paraplegia, Bill has used his engineering expertise to ensure the bus is designed so he can operate it singlehandedly wherever and whenever he is on– or off–road.
The ingenuity he uses as the Managing Director and owner of PME Auto Conversions—modifying any type of vehicle so people with disability can get back behind the wheel—has been lovingly poured into his bus over the past few years.
Like most large mobile homes, it’s a bit of a climb into it, so access has been made easier with the installation of a lift. Bill just needs to open the front door of the bus, fold down the platform attached to the door, roll on to the platform and then activate it with the remote control. Once inside, he can transfer into the driver’s position, use the accessible bathroom or have a snooze on the bed at the back.
Belying its rugged military-brown exterior, the bus has all the mod cons and touches of outback luxury; hot and cold running water, indoor and outdoor showers, air-conditioning and heating. Any type of meal can be whipped up in the kitchen with the gas oven. But why spend time in the kitchen when you can be outside underneath the bus’s pull-out canopy, enjoying the delights created on the external slide-out barbeque while washing them down with a cold one from the slide-out mini fridge. If the mood takes, you can even break out the built-in washing machine to spruce up your clothes.
The bus also accommodates two guests in the pop-up bedroom that sprouts from its roof.
Bill can also indulge in one of his favourite pursuits—quad bike riding—as the bus easily takes his bike, which is loaded onto a specially designed and remote-controlled rack at the back.
The bus wouldn’t be complete without a spare tyre. The 150kg monster tyre is perched on the roof, but as Bill has thought of everything he has also installed a crane to get it down.
Despite the enormity of the bus, it can still pull into any petrol station and fill up. Bill doesn’t like to speak of fuel consumption in cents per kilometre, preferring to estimate it as “fair, depending on the road conditions”.
He initially picked up the bus for $20,000. But rather than think about how much he has spent fitting it out since then, his mind is firmly set on where his ‘yacht of the land’ will take him.
PME Auto Conversions is the Diamond Sponsor of the Spinal Cord Injuries Australia Independence Expo. To learn more about how any type of vehicle can be modified to suit your needs, visit PME Auto Conversions at the Expo. Register to attend at www.scia.org.au/expo or call 1800 819 775. Entry to the Expo is FREE.