Written by Kerrie Alexander

SINCE it was first manufactured in 1949, the much-loved Kombi has evolved with a new look and more style but there is one thing that has always remained a constant, and that’s its owners love of adventure. That is exactly what first attracted the very spirited Leanne Hodges to the classic car.

The Hervey Bay resident searched high and low to find her fully restored 1978 blue and white Kombi, affectionately known as Delilah, and two years on she couldn’t be more in love with her ride.

For Leanne, owning a Kombi isn’t just about having a classic car to drive, it’s a way of life for the mum, teacher aide and hobby artist.

She loves the beach feel, the positive vibes and the way the Kombi is associated with sun-soaked days and starry nights.

She said it’s such a delight when perfect strangers give her a wave or stop to have a chat, especially elderly folk who reminisce about the good times and adventures had in their own Kombi’s back in the day.

“Delilah is just my pride and joy,” Leanne said.

“It doesn’t matter where you go … I could just be driving down the road and someone will wave to me.

“If you park it somewhere, you’ll have a Pop come over and talk about when they had one in their day … it’s so lovely.

“It just makes me feel young again too. The Kombi’s are just so unique and it’s that’s beachy, outdoor and fun feel, when you were young and hanging out at the beach with your friends … I just love it.”

With a love of hitting the road to meet regularly with her fellow Kombi Queen group on the Sunshine Coast, Leanne decided to add to her theme by buying Frankie – a fully restored vintage caravan that now boasts the same vibrant blue and white paintwork as Delilah.

“The outfit certainly isn’t just for show but more for mountains of fun,” Leanne said. “All us Kombi Queens, all females, meet and park our Kombi’s on the beachfront at Noosaville and have our bums parked towards the water with an ocean view.

“We hang out here and either read a book, sleep of play games. It’s a really nice community and we get together quite regularly.” Delilah is also well-known at the Hervey Bay Special School where Leanne visits with her therapy dog, Ted, each Friday.

The vehicle is often used to take the students out on special occasions and the school formal. Ted is also never one to a miss a ride in the Kombi. The Groodle (golden retriever cross poodle) is a regular at the Hervey Bay High School where Leanne is a teacher aide each Wednesday.

She said the much-loved dog helps calm the students and put smiles on the teachers’ faces. “The kids will take Ted for a walk, give him a pat … he’s just calming.

“The kids might read a book to him, lay on him and it’s also great of the teachers because if they had a really bad day it just takes that moment away and puts a smile on their face.

“If it makes them feel good, it makes me feel good. “I love sharing the love.”

Leanne has also always had a natural artistic talent, developing from a young age and eventually utilising her self-taught skills to open her former FantaSea Faces face painting and arts and crafts business.

Her skills were also often used on family holidays overseas, where the whole family would stop in at underprivileged areas and volunteer to paint the children’s faces and do craft activities.

She sold the business two years ago and hadn’t picked up a paint brush until now when, by chance, a seller of a hand-painted surfboard she wanted to match Delilah didn’t reply to her buyer’s enquiry. So, she decided to paint one herself which lead to another passion for buying and painting surfboards, long boards, and skateboards with personalised designs.

Well-known as a lady that likes to keep busy, Leanne has also now added painting resin art on tables and making soy candles to the mix, with the view of setting the Kombi up at local markets.

“I don’t give up … if I want something, I will try everything to get there.

“It’s been a really good step. Things happen for a reason; He didn’t reply to me and now it’s so much fun and I’ve found this new venture.”

Leanne also just returned from her latest outing in the Kombi to The Surf Show and Shine in Mooloolaba where her wares were proudly on display. The event, hosted by the Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland, attracted about 100 Kombi vans and raised funds for the local community.

To keep up to date with Leanne’s personalised skateboard and surfboard work, visit her Soul Rider Art Facebook page.