• Obituary: Tom Harley (August 1, 1928 – October 3, 2020)
Happy days! Korumburra’s Tom Harley liked nothing more than taking friends, family, school kids and members of the community where they wanted to go in a professional driving career that spanned seven decades.
TOM Harley, the founder of Harleys Bus Lines in Korumburra, liked nothing more than saddling up in the drivers’ seat of one of his coaches and heading off… it didn’t matter a great deal where.
In fact, he just loved driving a bus, his own car, a tractor, a truck, or towing the caravan; and he loved being the vehicle for other people’s enjoyment.
And from the day he started relief bus driving for Taylors at Leongatha in 1952, while continuing to operate the family’s dairy farm at Kardella South, he knew that was the life for him.
And it’s clear from the many warm tributes posted on Handley Funerals website, after his death on Saturday, October 3, aged 92, that others appreciated what a gift he was to the travelling public.
• Always remembered with a smile and a nod to me as the driver on the bus to many a netball tournament.
• One of the greatest school bus drivers.
• One of nature’s gentlemen, a kind and generous person, always a friend and assisting South Gippsland Legacy when they required transport for the widows.
• Remember your dad on our travels on Probus trips.
• I have great memories from my childhood of going on bus trips with my family, stopping for the yummy cuppa and sandwich breaks along the way.
Thomas Victor Harley was born on August 1, 1928 at the Korumburra Bush Nursing Hospital, the first child for Lucy and Vic Harley with brother Ronnie (now deceased), a sister Ethel, and another brother Frank (also deceased) to follow.
Together they formed a close family of six, living on their family farm at Kardella South.
Tom attended the Kardella South Primary School and Korumburra Elementary School (high school) but had not been there long when he became ill with rheumatic fever and never returned to finish his schooling, allowing him to work full time on the family farm until he met and married Dorrie Gilhome on February 23, 1952.
They made a handsome couple, clocking up their 68th anniversary earlier this year, welcoming Christine Ann first, then Narelle Joy and finally Wayne Thomas.
His love of driving started early in life.
He was driving the old Fergie tractor on the farm at a very young age, followed by an old Rugby truck, until they purchased a Chevy ute. A canopy was added to the ute so he could transport family and friends on outings and to dances.
He received his driver’s licence at 17 and at the age of 20 he began transporting new Holden cars from Melbourne to Perry’s Garage in Leongatha.
The school runs for Taylors led to his first coach tour in 1958. He was the Coach Captain for a Young Farmers group, taking them to the Blue Mountains. A couple from Toora met on the trip and were later married. It wasn’t the last such happy event.
This was the first of many tours to all parts of Australia, allowing a vast number of local people to travel. The passengers were friends, family, acquaintances – many of whom became lifelong friends.
Canberra for Floriade, weekend pokies trips to Rich River, CWA groups to Toorak for the national conference, garden tours, Ballarat, Warrnambool… all over. One time he put the coach on The Ghan from Alice Springs to Darwin as part of an outback trip.
And there was always coffee, tea, milk and hot water for an impromptu stop.
He got his first permanent school run in 1974, driving for Hursts in Korumburra. Wayne was away at the time and had to rush home to milk the cows while Dad drove kids to and from school.
He bought his first coach in 1976 and applied for a charter license. His business was now ‘T.V Harley Tours’ and it continued to grow.
He purchased his first four school runs in 1980 from Hursts and ultimately extended the business to four coaches, six school runs and a minibus before Wayne took the reins in 2004.
Now with grandsons Tom and Matthew involved, there are 13 school bus runs, two coaches and four minibuses.
But he continued to drive, taking tours away with his faithful passengers still lining up to go anywhere with him until he finally stopped driving his coach at the age of 76 – a sad day for Tom!
Even after that, he was ever ready to drive friends and family all over. He loved it, and they loved him for it.
Tom Harley was strongly involved in the community over the years from a direct involvement in Scouts and school council to swimming club, tennis, camera club, carpet bowls and Rotary but also providing services to the senior cits, Legacy, the Karmai Festival, Coal Creek and many other organisations.
In recent times Tom and Dorrie lived at Carinya Lodge and the family thanked the staff for their care and attention at his funeral on October 9.
As well as his three children, seven grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren, with another soon to arrive, he is survived by his loving wife, Dorrie.
A substantial life, lived in the happy service of the travelling public.