Becoming a bus driver…..

One of my blog readers asked me the following question: “Hi, I was wondering (when you have time) if you could do a blog on choosing a car for the large family and how you have found this process through the years. Thank you”
So here it goes……

Upon starting a family; most people have a their own vehicle. This seems to do fine for the first couple of children.  However, it’s not until a 3rd child is born, that one realises that it is time to upgrade (especially if you have them close together).

Before marriage (and kids)  I purchased my first car when I was 19yrs of age, a Holden Barina Swing – 94 model.  It was a great little car (got me from A to B).  Once I married, my husband and I sold his vehicle and kept mine as our family car (hubby then was given a work vehicle).


This car held my two little girls (comfortably) for a couple of years, however when my 3rd daughter was about to enter the world, we soon realised that 3 car seats would not fit along the back seat of the Barina.  

Our next vehicle purchased had to have some thought; we knew we wanted to have a large family but also had to take into consideration that we would probably outgrow the next car too.So instead of buying a brand new car, we found Pickles Auctions and bought a Ford Falcon AU station wagon which gave us enough room for the three baby seats in the back.


Before number 4 daughter arrived; we had a Dickie Seat put into the rear storage area.  This made gave us the extra seats; turning our vehicle into a 7-8 seater.

 dickie seat


This car worked well for the next few years and up until our 5th child (our first son) was born. Unfortunately after a little while, it was also starting to get a little cramped for space. It wasn’t until we did a 12+ hour drive to SYD from MELB (which would take 10hrs normally without the kids) with ~ 3 adults and 5 kids; 8 suitcases, pillows, baby bag, nappies, a trailer full of bikes etc.  Not to mention the screaming, pushing and fighting and of course the “are we there yet” ….that we realised this was going to be our last big trip in that car. The 3rd adult was a friend of ours hitching a ride ~ I am sure she remembers this adventure which is planted solidly into my own memory).

Back then in 2004, our options were quite small (there were not many ‘people mover’ vehicles to choose from with the required seats needed).  We could have moved up to a Toyota Tarago, and although it would still have had room for a sixth child; we also knew this would not be a wise choice as any more children would not fit in the car.  The storage and space also played a part in our decision as well.

So our next option was either a Ford Transit Van or the Toyota Hi Ace Commuter Bus. We chose the Hi Ace (but kept the old Ford Falcon for hubby), as it was not as huge as the Ford. Fortunately when we got ours, the new model had just been released. It was a 14 seater; however we removed 2 of the back seats (so my husband and I didn’t have to go and get a bus drivers licence).  We got the Petrol Auto and also had LPG fitted as well.

Driving this “beast” is quite easy actually.  I got use to it within a week.  It drives like any other car (and does not feel like a tank or bus).  Parking is quite easy, as it has a fantastic turning circle.  I often smile at people watching me park (while gritting their teeth), then looking amazed how I got into THAT spot.  The only thing I have to watch and take note of is the height.  Shopping centres  are a problem, however, I know I can fit under 2.3M (meters) anything less – NEVER DRIVE IN!

Why this is here is beyond me…where is the ceiling? As for trucks parking in there, would actually they fit?


There is also enough room for my 7 kids and some extra passengers if need be. Travelling and holidaying is great as there is plenty of storage room. Small ‘carry-on’ sized suit cases can fit underneath the seats and in between those with little legs that don’t quite reach the floor yet.


If fighting gets under way; it’s easy enough to move the culprit to another position (usually the single seat near the door ~ all alone).

Cleaning out the van is also easy too.  Seeing it has no carpet but ~ plastic flooring, vacuuming and mopping is quite effective.  (My hubby has also used a leaf blower with the rear and side doors open to get rid of the muck and dirt too).

So there you have it.  Thinking back many years ago, I never thought I would be driving one of these vehicles either.  And although it is great to drive; I also enjoying driving my hubbies car. He recently upgraded to a Nissan Pathfinder – 7 seater; that way he can take most of the kids with him on an errand or camping trip away (without me having to tag along).  

And if you see a Silver Toyota Hi Ace on the road in Melbourne someday (with a bus load of kids inside)….you never know, it could be me!