Australia Day today, and lots on in the city. But what drew me there first and foremost was the opportunity to ride in this 1936 Leyland Titan TD4 no. 1579 double-decker bus. I've been fortunate enough to see some of the immensely hard work involved in restoring it to its present glory, and today was the first time it's carried the public in over 48 years.
Here's what happens when you're riding the streets of Sydney in a vintage double-decker bus on Australia Day - you watch the faces on the street. And you see people notice, and stop, and really pay attention, and they smile like you wouldn't believe. Seeing the bus just makes them happy - not just little kids, but people of all ages.
Men of all ages with unguarded faces, just delighting in this wonder, this evidence of someone's commitment to restoring the past, this snapshot of mid-twentieth century transport. Until the bus is out of sight, you know they're smiling, and that somehow this bus has given them that joy, just by driving by.
We did nearly two circuits of the city route, one downstairs, one upstairs. Upstairs, you of course notice the stuff you can't see at street level, high as you are - but you also get an even better view of those entranced and happy faces, not sure if what they're seeing can be true, realising it is, full of wonder and joy.
What a gift, to have created that response in thousands of strangers, after all the hours of solitary and co-operative work on the myriad of intimidating details that go into such a restoration. I blogged about the seats back in August - yes, that's the bus in the background, before it was painted.
That was just the beginning of a busy, happy Australia Day, but it was the highlight.