ARARAT - Long serving bus driver Ray Hurstfield pulled into Christian's Bus depot for the final time last Friday afternoon, closing the book on an eventful 18-year career.
The popular driver decided it was time to retire and spend time travelling the country side at his own leisure, although he admits it was hard to step away from the job he loves.
"I have always been a people person and have worked with kids most of my life, so I just enjoy the company the job offers," Mr Hurstfield said.
"It takes you to places you maybe wouldn't otherwise get the opportunity to go. With the charter side of things I go to Melbourne to the football often and I've done four or five football trips to Adelaide for a couple of local football clubs."
Christian's colleague Jeannette Sharp said Mr Hurstfield had been a pleasure to work with.
"It will be very sad to see Ray go, he is a real gentleman," she said.
"He has seen so many changes with the company to go from McMillans to Christians and then all the new buses and the town service going from a couple of days a week to the five and a half days.
"For the number of years that he has been here and for his school run in particular, he has seen kids go from primary school all the way through high school and even now he is taking the next generation."
Mr Hurstfield said one of his personal career highlights was when the local bus company sent its vehicles to Sydney in 2000 for the Olympics to meet the demand following an influx of athletes and visitors.
"Sydney wasn't a very nice place to drive buses in, but it was still a great experience," he said.
"There was a lot of camaraderie amongst the other drivers and just meeting some of the international athletes was really good."
Over his almost two decades of service to the community Mr Hurstfield said he has made some life long friends.
He said the Christian's town transit is an essential service to run.
"With the elderly people, for some it is the only way for them to get around town and you strike up an excellent relationship with them," he said.
Family, friends and other bus drivers will gather later in the year to hold a celebratory dinner in his honour.
Mr Hurstfield's early days of retirement will be very exciting as he anticipates the arrival of his tenth grandchild," he said.
"At this stage we won't be doing too much until next year because my daughter is about to have a baby.
"I think there is a cruise on the go later on next year up around the islands near New Guinea. My wife has already done one but I stayed at home last time, now that I won't be working we can plan these sorts of thing.
"I'd like the thank the management for giving me the opportunity to be a bus driver, it has just been a lot of fun."