A Buln Buln man is planning to revive Australia’s Cobb & Co horse-drawn coach routes, starting with a Warragul to Sale trip for backyard tourists.
Ricky Fornaro, who presently runs coach trips between Yarragon and Trafalgar, told The Warragul Citizen he hopes to show Australians their history through the trips.
“I’m hoping to tap more Aussies just so they can appreciate what we’ve done in the past and our history,” says Mr Fornaro.
“I’m trying to tap into what as Australians we did have and have now forgotten, because if you know much about the coaching industry, it was bigger than QANTAS.”
Mr Fornaro presently has two replica Cobb & Co coaches, one he built himself, the other built by prisoners from a Sale prison.
The prisoners built the coach as part of training for a TAFE certificate.
“I’d like to employ some of these prisoners because they’ve done the wrong thing and they’ve played their price,” says Mr Fornaro.
“I’m not there to judge them and I don’t ever ask what they’ve done wrong, it’s none of my business, but I’d like to be able to employ some of them in the area of Gippsland as coach builders.”
Mr Fornaro is in discussions with the Baw Baw Shire Council about creating a coach-building shed.
The coaches are built according to the original plans, which Mr Fornaro bought from a Florida man five years ago. The plans had been in America since the mid-1970s.
“We wanted original plans because I don’t want to build a replica of something that wasn’t original. We’re trying to keep all the vehicles as original as possible,” Mr Fornaro says.
Mr Fornaro hopes to eventually reopen routes as far north as Toowoomba, and says business could be even bigger now than it was in Cobb & Co’s heyday.
“If it goes to plan, we might be able to have even have more than what they had originally,” says Mr Fornaro.
“It’s for the people who provide the food along the ay at different stops, it’s for people who provide bedding along different stops, it’s for people that organise the horses.”
“It’s a whole new industry.”
The Warragul to Sale route will keep away from major roads and coaches will stop at many smaller towns.
“I was with the [Baw Baw] Shire and [talked about] heading into Glengarry and up through the small towns,” says Mr Fornaro.
So we’re going to head from Traralgon up into the bush and hit the small towns and do that run through there down through to Sale.”
The last Cobb & Co route to close in Victoria was Moe to Sale.
The cost of a journey from Warragul to Sale is yet to be determined, but could be just $120 including meals.
“We’re trying to keep it that an average Aussie bloke that’s been working his guts out can have a good day out with his family and not become broke by doing it,” says Mr Fornaro.
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