If Echuca is known as the town Where All The Rivers Run, then surely Shepparton in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley should be known as the town where All The Trucks Run.
After all, one in four Victorian truck registrations are in Shepparton and surrounds. And if that’s not reason enough to have a truck museum there, then I don’t know what is.
The story of The Museum of Vehicle Evolution, or MOVE, begins back in 2012 when a group of collectors of cars and other memorabilia approached one Jim Andreonatis.
Andreonatis had a few roof trusses left over from a job he’d done at the SPC Factory Sales building in Mooroopna. Some friends approached him and suggested he build a shed to house some cars and other ‘stuff’.
That shed was 700 square metres and became The Shepparton Motor Museum – increasing to 1200 square metres a couple of years later. Fast-forward to 2017 and a group of local transport operators had come together with a goal of building a Transport Museum. Peter Hill, executive officer of MOVE, takes up the story.
“They got it off the ground but had lost a little bit of steam,” recalls Hill.
“My former employer John Kreskas met with Jim Andreonatis one day and asked what was happening with the truck museum. Jim knew nothing about it so John filled him in on the rich trucking history of the area and the people behind it.
“That meeting put the idea back front and centre with trucking legends, Sam Sali, John Taig, Ken Keating, Lloyd Mawson and others coming on board. Raising the funds was obviously a priority. We went looking for government funding and were told that we either have to ‘Put up or shut up’.
“So we went to local trucking families and asked for a financial commitment. In fairly short order we’d raised $1 million which enabled us to go to federal, state and local government for further funding.”
The result is a building covering 9000 square metres and those trucking families are now represented at MOVE in the Hall of Legends. The names Sam Sali, John Taig, Ken Keating, Lloyd Mawson, Ted Phillips, Vasil and Chris Rendevski, and many others will live on as pioneers of trucking in and around the Goulburn Valley.
The area is the food bowl of Victoria and many families migrated to Australia from Italy, Greece, Albania and other far flung places of the world to carve out a new life.
Their hard work and ultimate success as orchardists or market gardeners required the movement of their product to the Markets in Melbourne or Sydney.
In many instances they – or their sons, who saw an opportunity to build their own business, while still ‘keeping it in the family’ – bought their own truck/s, often an International or Mercedes 1418 to do the job. Other ‘outsiders’ also saw opportunity to service these successful businesses and grow alongside them.
Rendevski’s first International, a blue C1600 Butterbox bought in 1970 sits in the museum as a reminder that these trucks, originally built for the army they were a mainstay (along with the Benz) in the area. Tough as nails, these trucks offered no frills. Fitted with 282 cubic inch diesel the truck produced an underwhelming 89 horsepower and carted Rendevski grown fruit to market.
Phillips Transport’s milestone K125
Ted Phillips founded his trucking business at his parents’ farm at Bunbartha. As the need for more powerful trucks arose, Ted approached Brian Thompson (now Graham Thompson Kenworth) and ordered the first ever Kenworth to be delivered outside Melbourne. The Cabover K125 was delivered on Christmas Eve, 1978, and now takes pride of place in the Kenworth Legends Hall at MOVE.
The last of the CAT-powered Kenworths
Just down from Ted’s Kenworth sits another, this time a grey 2008 model T908. With a mere 600km on the clock, its owner determined to buy one of the last CAT powered Kenworth’s. Bought to tow his float and show truck, the latter has not been completed so he generously agreed to put it into MOVE.
Gerard Hicks’ 1986 W925
Next to the 908 is Gerard Hicks’ 1986 W925, probably the biggest and best truck on the road at the time. The truck has been painstakingly bought back to its original glory. The red colour of this truck is actually from Toyota. Gerard drove through Shepparton one day, saw it, loved it and had Kenworth paint it in that colour – an inspired choice.
Rendevski 1980’s SAR, one of the quickest
Further along sits one of the quickest trucks in the Goulburn valley in its time – Rendevski’s 1980’s SAR. Peter Hill should know because in another life he hurtled it up and down the Hume Highway. The truck was recently found in a paddock and has been moved to the museum in all its original glory.
Kalafatis White Road Boss is a stunner
Do not think that the museum is all about Kenworth though. One of the most stunning displays is the Kalafatis family’s 1980 White Road Boss. Words and photos cannot convey the detail that has gone into restoring this classic and frankly, it would be worth going to MOVE to view this truck alone.
The museum abounds with trucks of all makes. There’s Sam Sali’s lovely old Diamond T, used to transport the family’s fruit to market; there’s a 1948 Thornycroft Amazon – a beast of a machine. Foden is represented with a 1954 FG pumping out a massive 102bhp. There’s Mack, Mercedes, UD, Albion, Dodge, Ford and much, much more.
This Chev tells a story
In all its unrestored glory stands a 1927 Chevrolet tipper. Easy to miss amongst the Big Bangers, this was Mawson’s first truck. It would head out every morning, 16 miles from Cohuna – two fellows with a pick and shovel, and they would break up gravel, shovel it by hand into the tipper and bring it back into Cohuna. The only comfort it had which is now gone was a straw and horsehair seat. I am assured by the boys at Mawson is that if I put some petrol in and cranked it, it would start. This truck tells a story, warts and all.
- MOVE is open 7 days from 10am-4pm on the Goulburn valley Highway just south of Shepparton. Look for the Dutch-style windmill.