Australian musical duo Alivan Blu follow their dreams gigging and traveling in their retro bus conversion
Anna and Jed of Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Australia, began convering an old school bus in 2019. They have been a couple for four years and started playing music together three years ago. After buying a dingo puppy and giving up their part-time jobs and play music full-time, they decided to take their bus conversion up and down the East Coast busking, performing, surfing and living the dream. However, with the onset of the pandemic, their plans changed overnight. Now slowly getting back on track, the couple hopes to begin their two-year Australian trek at the beginning of 2021. It took them six months to convert their bus using old pine pallets and second-hand wood. The bus is fully off-grid and fitted with 600 watts of solar which runs everything from the fridge to their TV.
Motor: 3B diesel
Current Location: Yamba NSW, Australia
Purchased From/Location: Kyogle, NSW
Cost in materials for the conversion: $10,000
Total time from purchase date to on the road: 6 Months
Why a bus?
We previously lived in a Toyota Hiace van, With all our music gear and a growing puppy
we decided to buy something bigger to make life on the road more comfortable as we were
spending a lot of time away from home.
Does your bus have a name? If so, why did you choose it?
Our bus is called ‘Alivan the Wonderbus.' This is also how we came up with the name for
Will you be full-timing?
Yes, however, we are living back in our house due to the pandemic but
we have a road trip planned to drive to Western Australia over a two year period starting
Where are you converting/ did you convert your bus?
We have a house in Yamba, NSW, where we converted our bus.
Did you do the conversion yourself or did you hire someone?
We did the conversion ourselves with a bit of help on the electrical/solar side. We are very proud of this as neither of us has a trade and
we kind of winged it! There was a lot of trial and error but it worked out great and we
couldn’t be happier.
Who are you living/traveling with?
Just the two of us (Anna and Jed) and our puppy, Simba.
Were you all on the same page about living bus life or did one person (or more) have to
We both had the dream for ages, but it took us both a while to get the courage to quit our
jobs and live the bus life full-time. We are surfers and musicians so the lifestyle is a
dream and has been since we were both kids. We were just lucky we found each other
and were both up for creating it.
What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn along the way?
We had no skills prior and it taught us a lot in building, we have since renovated our
entire house from the skills we learnt building the bus.
Tips/tricks/advice to help others have who are converting a vehicle? Something
you wish you had known going into this?
Measure twice, cut once! Also, make sure you create storage everywhere possible!
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
It is made entirely from recycled wood. We used old pallets and as much second-hand
material as possible.
What do you do for income? How often do you work while on the bus?
We now play music full-time, gigging every week which consists of 2-4 gigs per
What do you think will be the hardest thing about this whole lifestyle change? Easiest thing?
The hardest thing will be having Simba and not being able to take him everywhere we go. In Australia dogs are not allowed in national parks, wateralls and on some beaches. The
easiest thing will be the simplicity and freedom.
Is there anything you wish you did differently in your build?
We sometimes wish we designed the bed to double bed dimensions as its hard to find a
mattress which fits.
What about the bus will help you be successful in reaching your lifestyle goals?
More freedom allows us more inspiration and time to write music, spend time
together, surf and live the lifestyle we love. It’s also financially beneficial as we are not
What have been people’s reaction to you buying a bus to live in?
A lot of people are impressed with our building skills and choice of lifestyle. It took some
people a while to understand why we wanted to live this way especially living in such a
Have you met other skoolies or buslifers on the road?
Yes, we have met a lot of other buslifers who are all so like-minded and friendly! It is
such a good little community!
Tell us about your layout. Kitchen? Bathroom? Bedroom?
We only have a kitchen and bedroom, and a small bench seat in the back. We tried to
design our bus to be as simple as possible. We decided against a bathroom as there are
lots of public amenities in Australia and we only have a short wheelbase so did not have
We needed all of the space underneath our bed to store our music gear. That
left only the front half of the bus for clothing, food and all other storage. We have a
roof rack for our surfboards, Jerry Cans and other items that do not need to be/fit inside.
We installed 600W of solar with a 150Ah Lead Crystal battery which runs everything
(12V fridge, 12V TV, water pump, phone/laptop chargers)
How has the pandemic affected bus life for you?
We had a tour booked from the East Coast to the West Coast consisting of around 30
shows, which we would travel and live in the bus full-time. This was all canceled
overnight which changed our plans drastically. Now we are back at home, changing
some things on the bus and focusing on releasing music (check out our latest single
release ‘Empty Spaces’). We still try to get away as often as possible on small weekend trips.
What is the most memorable place you’ve traveled in your bus conversion?
Maleny Hill up on the Sunshine Coast. It overlooks the Glass House Mountains and you can
see all the way to the coast. It's absolutely beautiful with waterfalls and incredible views.
We did, however, break down driving up the hill because it is so steep but it was all part of
the experience and adventure.
Where do you project you’ll be three months from now?
Hopefully back gigging and living in the bus!
How can people learn more about you (social media, website, etc.)?
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