Vintage bus ride in Katoomba

Alan Carr is working very hard - double-clutching many gear changes and battling a fairly primitive power-steering system as he descends the winding, narrow road from the Great Western Highway into the Central Western NSW town of Oberon. But he’s obviously loving every minute of it.

Some would say that he’s just driving an old bus. And technically he is, but it’s a very special old bus.

What’s in Alan’s very experienced hands is a 1947-vintage Flxible (yes, folks, the spelling is fine as is) Clipper that was specially built in the US, complete with right-hand drive, for the late Sir Reg Ansett and used by him as the model to manufacture more than 130 coaches in Australia for his fleet.

It revolutionised road transport in its day and still provides a remarkably comfortable ride.

“Before this vehicle arrived, all mass road transport in Australia was carried out in vehicles that really were just a development of the horse and dray,” Alan says.

“With vehicles such as this one and the many replicas, road trips between cities such as Sydney and Melbourne suddenly became a realistic proposition.”

Why, it even had air-conditioning that involved more than just opening a window.

And, boy, does the magnificently restored Clipper turn heads as it arrives in the parking lot at Mayfield, the truly majestic gardens just outside Oberon, on the back road to Bathurst.

The vehicle is part of the large Blue Mountains fleet of Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours.