This is a story about how a mutual love for Kombis between two people became a catalyst for finding love, happiness, and a lifestyle they had always dreamed of through Hire a Kombi.
George and Alyce, a couple from Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, are the proud owners of Hire a Kombi, a family-run business that rents out their self-restored VW Buses for short-term and longer-term trips across eastern and southern Australia. Their unlikely success in turning their passion for Kombis into a business that allows them to share it with others is remarkable. The story of how they achieved it, even more so. Now buckle up for the heart-warming backstory of one of our favorite VW Bus rental companies — and maybe grab the tissues; this one is a tear-jerker.
George and the Giant Dream
Harking back to the 90s, George was a young ‘boy racer’ with a passion for fast cars and breaking speed limits. Having almost exhausted his chances with the law, George knew it was time to make a drastic change. His idea was to buy a vehicle that wouldn’t allow him to break the speed limit no matter how hard he tried. Of course, it was a Kombi that came to mind. As George sat in the driver’s seat of a Kombi for the first time, he felt something shift inside of him. The desire to speed immediately dissipated and the satisfaction he found in racing was immediately replaced with the fulfillment of taking life at a slower pace.
In 2000, George got a job as a workshop manager for a car rental company on the Gold Coast. During the days he spent doing meticulous mechanical checks and repairs for these hire cars, he was struck with an idea. What if we added Kombis to our selection of hire cars so that everyone could have an opportunity to experience the Buslife dream without having to commit long-term? An excited and impassioned George pitched the idea to the hire car company owners, but they failed to share his vision. George kept working however, he couldn’t quite let the dream go, so he decided to buy the business name ‘Hire a Kombi’ just in case. Eight years would go by before he would put it to use.
Alyce in Wonder
Meanwhile, Alyce who lived in the Whitsundays had been charmed by the VW Bus lifestyle since she was a little girl. She remembers coming home from school one day with a Kombi-inspired pottery pinch pot she had made complete with its own number plate and a peace sign on the side. At such a young age, she couldn’t fully understand the significance of VW Buses and the hippy culture, but something about it just called to her. Even now Alyce recalls “the older I became, the more I dreamed of traveling around Australia in a Kombi”.
In 2010, she finally decided she was ready to make that dream come true. After searching thoroughly online for a Kombi that really called to her, Alyce found an advert for one located in Victoria, southeastern Australia. Filled with the excitement and anticipation of making the first move towards realizing her lifelong dream, Alyce called the number on the advert — and George picked up the phone.
When George met Alyce
It wasn’t quite the phone call Alyce had hoped for. After telling George all about her plans to travel around Australia in a Kombi, he assured her his vehicle wasn’t up for the task as it was a microbus. He mentioned that he had an older beat-up camper stored away but he wasn’t planning to sell it because he hoped to use it for a future business. That was that. Alyce’s lead had dried up and she was back to square one. Soon enough, however, George’s passion for helping others realize their dream of driving through Australia in a Kombi was so strong that just a week later, he called Alyce back. Sure enough, George nobly declared he was going to fix it up for her to travel in. Alyce flew down to Victoria to see the Kombi and, as expected, immediately fell in love with it….and its owner too.
On the Great Ocean Road
Over the next four months, while Alyce was back in the Whitsundays, George tirelessly restored the old Kombi. Once it was road-trip-ready, he drove it all the way up the coast of eastern Australia to meet its new owner who had named it ‘Applejack’. Finally, after years spent chasing her dreams, it had all come true. Over the next year, Alyce circled the country, visiting George along the way. When it was over, she did return to the Whitsunday however soon found herself driving south where she returned to George in Victoria. Call it serendipity.
Not only did George find the love of his life through his passion for helping others realize their Buslife dreams, but he found someone to believe in his own. Alyce was the first person to truly support his ‘Hire a Kombi’ vision, and in 2012 (just a year after she moved to Victoria), it became a reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous ‘Hire a Kombi’
Having been running for over 10 years now, Hire A Kombi is the longest serving self-drive kombi hire company in Australia. It is based on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, but they offer its service nationwide. There are four gorgeous 1970s and 80s campervans and minibusses available for hire, each of which has been restored and maintained with their beautiful original air-cooled engines to give you the absolute authentic Kombi experience. Alyce also adds “when we restore a Kombi, we try to keep its original features and restore its original color”. Rather than kitting them out with the latest tech, George and Alyce prefer to keep them simple so that families that rent them are encouraged to spend quality time together. Hire a Kombi rent their vehicles for all purposes including solo road trips, family camping trips, honeymoons, weddings, marketing, photo shoots, television, and much more.
Meet the Kombis:
Clancy is an orange 1974 Westfalia with all of the original 70s fixtures and textiles. With his funky pop-top, this automatic kombi can seat 5 + sleep 4 adults comfortably. He also comes with a double burner gas hob, fridge, and sink, as well as a fold-out table, camping chairs, a picnic rug, and an awning for the ultimate indoor-outdoor campervan experience.
Dawson is a sweet baby blue 1974 automatic dormobile with rich cherry wood-paneled interior which give him a real classy look. He sleeps two adults in the back plus two children in the pop-top hammocks. Dawson also comes with a double burner gas hob, fridge, and sink, as well as a fold-out table, camping chairs, a picnic rug, and an awning for the ultimate indoor-outdoor campervan experience.
Harriett is a dreamy cream 1974 8-seater minibus. She is the ideal Kombi to hire for weddings, family outings and other special events that deserve such a picture-perfect vehicle. Harriett comes complete with a picnic rug, cooler, and throw for some scenic day trips to the beach.
The newest member of the family, Buddy, is a quirky mid-blue 1985 T3 with a refreshing light white and sand-colored interior. With his double-sided pop-top, he sleeps a family of four comfortably. He also comes with a double burner gas hob, fridge, and sink, as well as a fold-out table, camping chairs, a picnic rug, and an awning for the ultimate indoor-outdoor campervan experience. Alyce exclaims “he is so much fun to drive and very comfortable to camp in!”
It’s a Wonderful Way of Life
George and Alyce don’t just own Hire a Kombi, they run it completely by themselves from their farm on the Bellarine Peninsula. After all, it’s more than just a business to them, it’s their way of life. While George takes care of the restorations, maintenance, and servicing (from upholstery to mechanics), Alyce heads the bookings, communication, and social media. If renters have any niggles while they’re on the road, George is also always on hand to offer his unparalleled Kombi knowledge to resolve them over the phone.
To put his sought-after expert knowledge to greater use, George also offers Kombi Counselling sessions. In these one-on-one sessions, VW Bus enthusiasts and owners can get any and all of their kombi queries answered. Not only does George help Kombi owners troubleshoot and find solutions for their vehicle’s mechanical issues, he helps source VW Buses and advises people on the best ones to buy.
There’s No Business Like a Family Business
Each of the lovingly cared-for buses Hire a Kombi rents is also very much part of George and Alyce’s family. When they’re available, the pair take their young children on road trips and beach days to show them the beauty of Buslife and encourage them to connect with nature. George tells us ”we rent our Kombis to share the joy, the experience, and the lifestyle we chose for ourselves and our kids”. As he says this, it’s clear his passion for offering Kombi experiences has only grown stronger since he first envisioned his business over 22 years ago. He recalls “we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it still isn’t, but we have stuck it out because it’s what we love and by staying true to who we are we trust we will continue to succeed in offering people the Kombi experience they have always dreamed of”.
The Curious Case of Hire a Kombi
Before, during, and even after George and Alyce started Hire a Kombi, they were continuously told it wouldn’t work out. The idea had been tried and tested before, but none had succeeded. But according to Alyce: “George doesn’t like it when he’s told he can’t do something”! The couple committed to the business regardless of the hours it required and the money they made in return. They knew that if they believed in their cause and were really good at what they did, they could achieve the lifestyle they dreamed of. And they did.
George and Alyce attest their success to their wonderful customers and the Kombi community which they have found attracts the most caring and beautiful people. Now, we don’t know about you, but having heard their story, we are inclined to attest George and Alyce’s success to their deep passion and love for Kombis — and each other. Either way, their movie-worthy story is a beautiful and poignant reflection of the power of the VW Bus community.
We’re lucky to have George and Alyce as part of the Buslifers community and they’re also grateful to be here. They wanted to give back to the community and will give any Buslifers readers a discount of 10% off weekday hire on any trip of two days or more. Just quote Buslifers when you book! If you hire with them, be sure to send us some pictures!