Eddie Ogden reflects on his life and 40 years in the bus business

Ogden's Coaches founder Eddie Ogden has had an "almost perfect life".

And at the age of 82 he is into the second year of his next 30-year plan for his life and is happy and healthy.

Ogden's Coaches is celebrating 40 years in 2020 and Eddie reflected on his life and how he got to where he is today.

Early Years

Born in Oakleigh a suburb of Melbourne in January, 1938, Eddie was the third child of five to Margaret and Ben Ogden.

"My father and younger brother came to Australia from England when he was 19 years of age," he said. "They went with a mate and his girlfriend to meet a ship coming into Port Melbourne from England. The girlfriend had four sisters, coming from England to join the new workforce in a new country.

"My mother was 16 years of age and after a lengthy courtship, she married my father and another sister married his brother."

At nine years of age, Eddie got his first job with a sheet metal worker.

"I worked from 4pm to 6pm, five days a week after school and 8am till 6pm on Saturday. I had Sunday off. Nearly 90 percent of my wages went to the family as when you worked you don't have time to spend money.

"When I was 13 years of age, my parents bought a bakery business in Lindenow, a small farming village, ten miles out of Bairnsdale in East Gippsland, Victoria. I did two years at the Bairnsdale Technical School and finished year 9, and then started my apprenticeship as a baker.

"It was a wonderful lifestyle for a young man, in a small country town. There was an abundance of sport, cricket, tennis and football. Lots of swimming in the Mitchell River."

Eddie said the weekend dance circuits around the small country halls were a great way for young men and women to get to know one another.

"As we each got our first car or motorbike, we started to travel further afield, to meet new friends at bigger and better dance venues," he said.

"It was at one of these places, I made contact with a beautiful young girl, named Faye Perry. We were best mates for about three years, before we got married and moved to Drouin, another country town, about 100 kilometres East of Melbourne. We were there for two and half years, working in the family bakery, and we introduced sliced bread to the public of Drouin for the first time."

The couple's next move was to the Riverina town, Narrandera in NSW. The family bought a large bakery business.

"All of my brothers were married at this stage, and we were all starting our respective families. We added golf, lawn bowls, squash, water skiing and baseball to our sporting challenges," he said.

"In 1968, my youngest and oldest brothers went into pig farming as a sideline to the bakery. As a sideline, I went into partnership with a friend of mine in a fish and chip and hamburger shop in Leeton. We also had a two year run growing potatoes under irrigation.

"In 1970, I left the family partnership and bought Kimbells Bakery in Wellington, in partnership with Owen and Sue Holstien. We created Kimbells Kitchen and the Holstien's sold out of the partnership some two years later."

Bus Beginnings 

Eddie said he must have been in a bit of a "flat spot" in life when he bought Faye a school bus run in 1980 for her birthday and the business grew from there.

"In 1985, I was elected Chairman of the Orana Branch of the NSW Bus & Coach Association, a position I still hold," he said. "I was on the executive of NSW Bus & Coach Association, as country vice president for approximately 15 years, and then the organisation changed its name to Bus NSW.

"I was a director, and country vice president for eight years. I am still on the executive of Bus NSW, today."

In 2011, the company introduced a Townlink Bus Services to Wellington, Dubbo and Narromine. This opened up a transport corridor some 200 kilometres long and 60 to 80 kilometres wide.

"I was instrumental in introducing Red Ticketing for Country NSW," he said.

"This enabled eligible travellers to use these services for $2.50 per day. It took us 20 years to organise this service and to get suitable Government approval. It was the first of its type in Australia and in the world."

In 2012, the company received an award from Bus NSW for the most innovative bus operator in NSW. The same year, it received, the Bus Industry Confederation National Award for Environment and Innovation. Another company highlight was sending 20 buses and two staff to help with the Olympic Transport Task in 2000.

"To supply buses for the Olympics, the NSW Government used some 4,600 country school buses, plus the drivers and brought them to Sydney for the Transport Task," Eddie said.

Building Skills

Eddie said he was always competent with working with his hands and over the years he had done a lot of painting, woodwork, welding, steel work, machinery maintenance and repairs.

"With a lot of my equipment, if I couldn't make it, I couldn't have it," he said.

"I along with my family and staff I have built all of our Bus Storage Depots. All of our buses are under cover day and night. Our staff feel they own the buses and the bus runs and I only pay the bills.

"We have a modern fleet of buses today, with an average age of less than seven years."

Health and Family

In 2010 Eddie had his first bout of cancer and had his bottom eyelid removed and six weeks of radiation to follow.

"They told me that if you are not dead within six months, the treatment has probably worked," he said. "If it doesn't reoccur in five years it won't come back.

"I had the same type of cancer occur in February, 2019. They tell me I am special, as no-one has had the cancer before, nine years later. I have now done the radiation treatment again and everything is looking good."

Apart from that, Eddie says he feels healthy and takes no medication.

He said he loves every facet of his life and has had a wonderful tolerant partner for the last 62 years.

"I have wonderful children and grandchildren," he said.

"We employ over 150 staff and they are the best people to work with.

"My life is nearly perfect.

"I am 82 years old and I am in the second year of my next 30 year plan."

"My life is nearly perfect. I am 82 years old and I am in the second year of my next 30 year plan.

Eddie Ogden
PERFECT LIFE: Eddie and Faye Ogden have been married for 63 years. Eddie bought Faye a school bus run in 1980 for her birthday and the business grew from there.

PERFECT LIFE: Eddie and Faye Ogden have been married for 63 years. Eddie bought Faye a school bus run in 1980 for her birthday and the business grew from there.

MODERN FLEET: The business now consists of 96 buses and coaches and around 130 staff including drivers, office staff and mechanics in three main depots. Ogden's Coaches is now the largest family owned and operated bus company in regional NSW.

MODERN FLEET: The business now consists of 96 buses and coaches and around 130 staff including drivers, office staff and mechanics in three main depots. Ogden's Coaches is now the largest family owned and operated bus company in regional NSW.

SHARE