Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift.
Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift. Monique Preston

Life on the road for a fundraising mission

WHITSUNDAYS residents may have noticed a big green and yellow double-decker bus in their towns over the past few days as it makes its way around Australia on a charity fundraising mission.

The bus is the brain-child of Lorie Norton who is travelling around Australia to raise money for Eli's Gift, a charity that helps families of sick children.

The journey is one that started 12 years ago when Mr Norton, from the farming community of Finley in the Southern Riverina of NSW, found the old bus which had been "left to die” in an old quarry.

It took him three years to rebuild the frame of the 1949 Double Decker Leyland Sydney bus - a job made much bigger than expected because of all the rust in the old frame.

Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift.
BIG LAP: Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift. Monique Preston

"I was borderline insane to think I could fix it,” the 34-year-old said.

After re-sheeting it in Colorbond Steel, he then left it on a farm in Finley for several years, before starting on the project again two years ago after what he describes as an "aha moment” while doing a meditation.

Living in Pakenham in Victoria at the time, he left it on another farm there while he did it up so that he could go on the road to raise some money for charity.

Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift.
Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia on his restored double decker bus raising money for charity Eli's Gift. Monique Preston

Initially he had hoped to raised money for a different organisation, but when things didn't work out, he discovered Eli's Gift which was started by Daniel and Steph Healey who lost their young son Eli after a fight with respiratory disease.

Having spent much of a year with Eli in and out of hospital, the family well knew what a burden could be placed on families and wanted to help others.

Eli's Gift covers an array of expenses for families of sick children hospital, from buying medical equipment, to paying for groceries, power bills, school fees, hospital parking and anything else that puts a financial strain on the families.

After rebuilding his bus into a home - Mr Norton hit the road to raise some money for the cause.

Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia fundraising for charity Eli's Gift by making coffees in his double decker bus.
Lorie Norton is travelling around Australia fundraising for charity Eli's Gift by making coffees in his double decker bus. Monique Preston

The bus now sports a downstairs 'café' area with a coffee machine, while upstairs is his living area, complete with bedroom and outdoor balcony that even comes equipped with plants.

Mr Norton has been on the road for five months already, selling coffees from the Twice as Nice café onboard his bus for $5, with the proceeds all going to Eli's Gift.

He plans to do a whole lap around Australia raising money, and is unsure how long that will take.

"How long's a piece of string?” he answered when asked how long he planned to be on the road for.

It's a slow trip, with the bus reaching a top speed of 45km/h.

Lorie Norton in the outdoor balcony garden are of his restored double decker bus he is travelling around Australia in to fundraise for charity Eli's Gift.
Lorie Norton in the outdoor balcony garden are of his restored double decker bus he is travelling around Australia in to fundraise for charity Eli's Gift. Monique Preston

Mr Norton relies purely on the generosity of strangers and businesses who can advertise on the outside of his bus, to fund the trip, with a separate donation tin for the travelling expenses.

Mr Norton and bus spent four days in Airlie Beach before moving on to Hydeaway Bay on Monday night and then Bowen on his way north.

To see what Mr Norton gets up to next, you can follow his Twice and Nice Gallery Café on Facebook or Instagram or the webpage at twiceasnice.com.au