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An Amazing Bus Conversion

Publish date: June 2022

Queensland couple, Georgina and Tyson, and their 4yo daughter, Elaura, are preparing to embark on an epic Australian road trip.

There is no designated route and no fixed end date.

They’ll be hitting the road in a feature-packed bus they’ve spent the past 20 months converting into their home on wheels.

Before they departed, we spoke with Georgina about their amazing reno, why they decided to hit the road full-time, and the adventures that await.

Home sweet home, wherever that may be.

About the bus…

  • Make/model: Mitsubishi Rosa
  • Year: 2005
  • Length: 8m
  • Original fit-out: 26 seats

Where did you find it?

When COVID-19 first hit, a bus charter company in the Gold Coast was selling its Rosas to try to keep its business afloat.

We saw an ad on Gumtree and contacted the company straight away. 

Why did you settle on this model?

Originally, we thought a Toyota Coaster would be best for us, as they have a great reputation. After doing more research into Rosas, we discovered they were slightly longer.

We then found one in almost perfect condition with a re-conditioned motor/engine that had been serviced regularly and for a bargain price. We knew it was meant to be. 

Hands up if you scored a bargain.

Any features worth mentioning?

We loved that the Rosa’s windows were heavily tinted, and that the door didn’t have to be changed to be compliant in QLD, like the bifold doors do. They were two things less that we had to add to the list to get it ‘motorhome ready’. 

Fit for a queen: the Rosa's tinted windows were a strong selling point.

What drew you to tackle this project?

After having our daughter at a young age before buying a house, we felt it was expected to do that (purchase a home) asap.

I was a stay-at-home mum and Tyson worked 12hr-plus days, six days a week, so that we had an opportunity to buy our first home.

Once we came close to doing that, we realised we don’t need to buy a house to be a happy family. Our mindset was that we’re still young, so let’s travel and give Elaura amazing experiences.

I have always had an interest in skoolies, tiny houses, and home décor. Tyson is a jack of all trades and loves a challenge, so this sounded like fun. We wanted to build something unique that suits us perfectly.

As soon as we bought the bus, we moved back to our hometown, where both our families are, to get the help – and babysitters – we needed to complete this project. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. 

So it begins...

Had you completed anything similar?

Nope! But my mum and dad built their own shipping container home, so they helped us every step of the way with their knowledge about off-grid living.

What did the reno involve?

We decided to strip the bus down to its frame to check and treat rust. Luckily, it wasn’t anything major.

From there, Tyson did all the framing, cutting, and woodwork. We established a power supply needed to suit us, and then my brother ran all our wiring while my dad guided us in the right direction to ensure everything was safe and compliant.

We installed all the plumbing components as well as had our gas certified. Once all the big tasks were done, we began the registration and engineering process, which went smoother than we thought it would.

Lastly, the sanding, painting, and decorating was up to me, which I was thrilled about. 

Extra assistance was warmly welcomed.

How long did it take?

Around 20 months of working on the bus only on weekends. We both had jobs and, honestly, underestimated the task.

What was most challenging about the process?

Lots of things were challenging to us, as we’d never done anything like it. Working with timber on curves was difficult as was understanding the solar/electrical, which was all new to us.

I’m sure Tyson would say it was challenging to put up with me wanting things to look “pretty”! 

The hard work pays off.

What was the easiest and/or most rewarding part?

Every part big or small we did on the bus came with worry that it wasn’t going to work or that it wasn’t going to fit.

Seeing now what we achieved after wanting to give up many times, the most rewarding aspect is finally saying it’s done and seeing our daughter’s face light up every time we are in the bus.

What surprised you?

How long it took. We thought we could have it done in nine months, but that wasn’t realistic for us – both having jobs and a daughter.

Another thing that surprised us was the cost of the electrical setup we needed to completely live off grid. 

A rewarding smile.

What aspect/s are you most proud of?

I’m proud of how well we’ve used our space while still managing to fit a king-size bed. But I will forever be most proud of Tyson for how hard he’s worked to make this lifestyle a reality for us.

What did you learn along the way?

To be patient and not jump the gun, because things run smoother if you do them in the right order.

We spent the first few months feeling like we weren't getting anywhere stripping, grinding, and prepping the bus for the fit-out, and now we’re glad we did.

We have peace of mind knowing problems with rust, leaks, and the body of our bus aren’t going to arise halfway around the country. 

What a difference 20 months make.

What would you do differently with time again?

The only thing we would do differently would be to have a toilet from the start. Now, last minute, we’ve decided we’re going to install one, so the framing has to change. But it’s nothing major.

Any handy hints for others?

  • Know the dos and don'ts to pass engineering and registration requirements before starting.
  • Allow more time than you expect.
  • We laid our vinyl floor at the end to avoid it being damaged during the build, and we’re glad we did.

These things take time...more than you might expect.

What prompted the decision to hit the road full-time?

The main reason is for our daughter to experience the country before she starts school. We thought if we were able to, we would travel for as long as we can, because we might not get another chance.

How long do you think you’ll be away for?

We’re planning for at least six months, if it's something we love, which I'm sure we will. One of us at a time will work. Tyson drives heavy machinery for a living and would happily continue to do that around the country while I have worked in hospitality since I was 16. 

The outlook is sunny.

Is there a plan?

We’d like to try to stick to having no plan, but we have booked one place so far and that’s our first stop at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Airlie Beach for Elaura’s fourth birthday. She is so excited to go after seeing the pictures of what they have to offer!

From there, we will probably go into the NT and just explore as we go. 

You can see why Elaura’s excited: BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing?

Everything! Australia has so much to offer; we’re so lucky to live here. I’m also looking forward to all the people we’re going to meet; other families along the way and learning from them.

Hail an amazing finished product.

Want to see more? Follow the family’s adventures on Instagram @the.rosa.reno

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