Abbeylee finds job she loves in school bus driving

Abbeylee Sanding infront of ASbus 2
Abbeylee Harrington discovered a whole new career after losing her job in childcare.

Abbeylee Harrington was sitting in her backyard, job hunting when her neighbour popped her head over the fence and asked what she was doing.

Abbeylee explained she was on a career break after losing her job in childcare and Claire was quick to suggest an alternative – bus driving.

She told her she had a “cool job” and a “great boss called Brandon” and passed along a phone number and email.

Despite never having driven a bus in her life, not long after Abbeylee had an interview that she passed with flying colours and soon got stuck into learning how to drive one.

“It was terrifying, but I got the hang of it pretty fast. I did the theory and the sat in the bus as a passenger watching the driver, watching how he took corners and did basic things like hill starts and reversing.

“I would say I find driving one of the easier things in life, so I found it fairly easy to pick up. I mean you mess up a few times (when you’re learning) and take a few gutters, but if you don’t do that you don’t learn where it is. I like driving and getting out on the road – I wouldn’t want to sit in an office all day long, I like the change of scenery.”

Abbeylee is a school bus driver, meaning she does the pick-up and drop-offs in Alice Springs, Monday to Friday during school term. Sometimes she helps with other tasks around the depot to make a little extra cash and helps with urban runs when she’s needed.

“I do the same route; it goes out about 15km to 20km down the Ross Highway to Amoonguna and pick up about 30 kids along the way,” she said.

She said she “absolutely loved” her new career – in fact, much to her friends’ amusement, the 26-year-old was always asking then to be bus drivers.

“I had nine years of childcare, working in different centres, since I was about 16,” she said.

Before Abbeylee found bus driving, she tried a few other careers like cleaning and labouring, but found they weren’t for her.

“This job is perfect, after what I went through with so many jobs, getting run down, too overworked, too stressed, there was lots of pressure, and I didn’t want that for myself anymore,” she said.

“I think I’ve been doing it for a few months now and I love it. My partner and I laugh every day about how bizarre it is, it’s so random. I one hundred percent owe my neighbour for a while now. It’s not just the driving but it’s a relaxed workplace and having a good boss really makes a difference.”

Although Abbeylee didn’t want to work in childcare anymore, she said the experience also helped in her new job.

“I do know how to deal with kids and how to talk to them when they’re acting up,” she said. “I also do lolly Fridays, and that helps keep them in line a little bit!”

Drive a bus with us NT campaign
Claire Norman (left) inspired her next-door neighbour Abbeylee Harrington to become a bus driver like her.