Bus ride sparks love for Coffs Coast couple

Feb 13, 2022 | 2 comments

Two Coffs Harbour seniors discovered that sometimes love takes public transport, after striking up a conversation during a day trip to South-West Rocks.

Ingenia Gardens residents Valma McLachlan and Bob Virgo met at Ingenia Gardens two years ago when they both happened to move into the Coffs Harbour community, and love blossomed when they found themselves as travel companions.

“We would always say hello at lunchtime, but we never really knew much about each other,” Ms McLachlan said.

“It was only after I sat beside Bob on a bus trip to South-West Rocks that I got to learn more about him, and we connected on a more personal level.

“We were looking out the window the whole time, sharing our life experiences and chatting about the places and things we had seen.

“Things have come a long way since then – we’ve even been voted the best-dressed couple at Melbourne Cup.”

Mr Virgo said that he and Ms McLachlan enjoy spending most nights relaxing together and watching Netflix.

“Val is such lovely company, and we really enjoy chatting about what’s happening on the TV,” Mr Virgo said.

“Time passes so quickly with her and before you know it, it’s already 11pm and we think ‘gosh, we’ve got to get to bed’.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, Mr Virgo said he and Ms McLachlan are looking forward to a big lunch in the community room at Ingenia Gardens.

“Our community chef can cook up a storm and he really knows what to put on for the occasion, so we are sure he has something special planned,” Mr Virgo said.

Ingenia Gardens Coffs Harbour Community Manager Sandra Luke said that with a lifetime of memories and experiences, love can sometimes look a little different for older Australians.

“Our residents come from all walks of life – married, widowed, separated and single – so the idea of ‘love’ has evolved for many of them,” Ms Luke said.

“Every one of our residents has a story to share about love – finding love, giving love and even losing love.

“Bob and Val are one really sweet example of this – they spent a few hours chatting on a bus and their lives changed.”

However, Ms Luke said that for many seniors what’s important at this stage of their lives can often be more about building friendships and a connection to a community that supports and sustains them.

“Valentine’s Day can be difficult for someone who has lost their lifetime love, so we try to celebrate and acknowledge love in all its forms, bringing neighbours together to connect with each other, feel valued and just have a good time.

“Whether it’s having a bit of a party or simply sharing a story with someone, regular ways of swapping shared experiences or learning about new ones is so important.”

To find out more about Ingenia Gardens Coffs Harbour please visit:


  1. Jenny Colley

    What a lovely story…love comes in many forms…have a wonderful “rest of your lives folks” best wishes from WA 🤗🥰⚘💜

  2. Selina Davis

    I’m truly touched what a lovely couple I wish them nothing but the very best happiness, love laughter we are meant to find our true love. No matter what age gives me hope I live in Engenia rentals at chambers flat I hope maybe one day I get to enjoy the happiness I see on these two beautiful souls congratulations love is love xo