Good time powerhouse Thunderbus Road is ready to switch up their game plan this year by stepping away from their ‘non-wine-tour wine tour’ project and charging into a more rewarding venture.
Residing on vineyard Commune of Buttons, Sophie Buttons had the idea of a comical wine tour two years ago.
It wasn’t until she met her business partner Jordie Hanson that her concept, and Jordie’s vision of working with a bus, collided and ultimately conceived Thunderbus Road.
But Thunderbus Road was more than just a comical wine tour; Sophie and Jordie took the wine tour concept and completely turned it on its head.
If you were on a Thunderbus Road tour, you could expect an intimate experience. By using the external views of the Adelaide Hills as their moving set, Jordie and Sophie aimed to take their guests on a journey.
From blindfolding their guests to getting off the bus and going on walks to magical spaces, Thunderbus Road aspired to be an enlightening adventure.
“We tried to take people away from the reality of life; the mundane day to day stuff,” Sophie says.
“We moved it around kind of pushing people’s boundaries and letting them land really comfortably with whatever it was that we did.”
Thunderbus Road had plenty of what Sophie describes as ‘magic moments’, but she explains that the concept of a wine tour is so embedded in South Australians’ minds that it was impossible to create anything else.
“Mclaren Vale and the Barossa are so established in our veins, there is this sense of pride and understanding, where you think ‘There’s a bus, there’s wine and my friends are with me —that means it’s a wine tour’, so it was hard to get people to see what else it might be,” Sophie explains.
“If you have alcohol in any situation, people will drink to the point that they have made their money back, so you very much end up with a very drunk bus load of people that are no longer connecting with what the point actually was.”
After Thunderbus Road teamed up with Son of Dot for Bus Boot during Covid-19 — a drink delivery service that included plenty of wine, music and dancing in the streets — Sophie and Jordie decided to redirect their vision.
It wasn’t just the fact Thunderbus Road wasn’t being received the way she and Jordie originally intended, but they also realised there are people out there who need them more than the Thunderbus Road guests do.
“We [thought] we can work this hard, but our outcome can actually have a much greater impact on people who really need our help. It’s not to say people who are generally privileged don’t deserve to have a good time, but I got to the point where I [realised] I’m not making money and I’m also working my ass off to make sure these people, who already have pretty much everything they want and more, have a really beautiful time,” she says.
“I want to move into a space where my input is generating happiness for people who actually require it and need more support and need to be listened to and seen and heard and valued — people who may not be able to get a job, or people who are struggling on our margins and have kind of been left by the wayside a bit. That’s where our surprise adventure is heading!”
While Sophie is keeping her surprise adventure under wraps for now, she says that she and Jordie have some amazing artists on board to turn the focus into something that will inspire her.
For now, you can keep up to date with Thunderbus Road’s story on their Instagram.