As Commonwealth Games fever took over the Gold Coast, with over 6,600 athletes and officials from 71 countries; a local duo was right in the centre of the action.
Electrician Rod Hill and mechanic apprentice Steve Constable drove two Symes coaches to help transport some of the 600,000 visitors to the sporting venues.
“It was pretty full on,” Mr Constable said. Based at Helensvale Station, the pair spent six days taking passengers to hockey, swimming and diving in 12-14 hour shifts.
“We probably lifted close to 4000 passengers in six days, between us. A normal week would be probably 500,” Mr Constable said.
Too busy to attend the Games themselves, the pair caught glimpses of the excitement throughout. Mr Hill watched an Isle of Man cycling team narrowly avoid a car accident while rolling past the athletes village, while Mr Constable was surprised by the speed of a pair of wheelchair athletes.
“They’re just sitting at the traffic lights in amongst all the traffic and the lights turn green - they were off the intersection as quick as the cars,” he said.
“It was phenomenal.”
Staying at the Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre, the men were able to watch a few training sessions.
“There was track stars out on the side, the sprinters, they were trackside practicing their sprints and there was javelin getting thrown over there,” Mr Hill said.
It wasn’t all fun and games, with the pair often picking up extra rounds of passengers to make up for scheduling dilemmas. Public transport was highly criticised during the event, with thousands left waiting for up to two hours before the opening ceremony.
Mr Hill, who spent three weeks in 2000 driving buses for the Sydney Olympics said the Commonwealth Games wasn’t “even in the same blooming paddock”. The local pair remained flexible throughout.
“On the last two days I just chucked the jolly sheet of paper over my shoulder and I went looking for people. If they were sitting there, I took them somewhere, wherever they wanted to go,” he said.
“If we’d stuck to our original timetables, we would have had six shifts in six days. We ended up doing 10 shifts in six days, six hours each.”