Adam Brown admits he hadn’t heard of the Lights on the Hill memorial event until recently, but one of the most emotional days on the trucking calendar will now be impossible to forget.
Adam, along with four generations of his family, was in Gatton at the weekend to honour the life of his beloved father Ellis ‘Scooby’ Brown, who passed away on February 16 after his truck rolled over while travelling southbound on Gympie Arterial Rd, near Gympie Rd, at Bald Hills just before midnight.
The 49-year-old father-of-three, and grandfather of six, who was working for RTS Transport hauling asphalt, was one of 59 new names added to the memorial wall on Sunday at the service at Lake Apex Park.
The weekend kicked off on Saturday with two convoys of trucks – one from Toowoomba and an even bigger cohort from Brisbane – converging at the Gatton Showgrounds for an afternoon and evening of entertainment.
Adam joined in from Brisbane aboard a Western Star, owned by Scooby’s uncle Troy Thompson from Lisort Transport, which had Scooby’s photo adorned to the grille with the words, ‘In loving memory of Ellis “Scooby” Brown, 1972-2022, Sadly Missed’.
Many of the other trucks also carried images and names of fallen truckies and hundreds of people lined the route to show their support.
Adam says it was an emotional couple of days, but is grateful for the chance to honour his dad and draw strength from the close-knit community of other road transport families impacted by similar tragedies.
“He was a very energetic and outgoing person, who was always a laugh to be around,” said Adam of the popular truckie of 10 years who moved into driving full-time after working in excavation.
“He was always more interested in making everyone else smile and laugh and would give them the shirt off his back if he thought it would benefit them.”
David Tilley, advertising and promotions co-ordinator for the event, was blown away by the turnout at the weekend, the biggest in Lights on the Hill’s long history.
He estimates that close to 300 trucks joined the convoy in Toowoomba and another 550 from Brisbane, the result of a big push in regional TV and radio promotions, and is confident that the 2023 event will be even bigger.
Like many others on the event committee, David also had a personal connection with the memorial, having lost son Nigel in a B-double fatality in Raleigh, NSW, in February 2019.
The highlight for David was being asked to release a white dove in his son’s honour – one of just three in total.
“I keep thinking to myself if only he’d stayed awake for another five seconds he would have been past those bridges and culvert and would have come off into open highway where he probably would have knocked down a tree or two but he’d still be here with us,” reflected David.
Asked to explain why Lights on the Hill resonates with so many, and continues to gain stature on the calendar, David paid tribute to the hard-working voluntary committee, and the recognition that without truck drivers, Australia would grind to a halt.
“You can’t buy anything without a truck being involved. There’s a truck involved with everything we do,” he said.
“You’d never survive in this country without trucks, you just can’t.”
Names added to memorial wall in 2022
Gavin James BARTON “Gav”
Victor James BARRY “Swampy”
William Arthur BARRY “Bill”
Trevor Norman BLINCO “Tex”
Paul Kenneth BRIGGS “Orky”
William A BURKE “Bill or Willy”
Thomas James BURNS “Tommy”
Ellis John George BROWN “Scooby”
Neville William CARR
Kevin John CLARKE “Pav”
Stephen John CLARKE “Clarkie or Stir”
Maurice CORK “Jim”
Mark Selwyn DE LA MOTHE
John Charles DIONYSIUS “Dyno”
Leonard Edward DIXON “Lenny”
Peter Joseph EVERAARDT “Theo”
Garry Robert FISCHER “Gaz”
Roger John GARDEM “Rog”
George William GIBBS “Grandad”
Hendrik Jeffrey GRIFFITHS “Hank”
Murray Ray HACKETT “Muz”
Warren Clarence Owen HARDY
David Lester HAUSER “Hooter”
Desmond Harold HESS “Des”
Robert Ross HIGGINS “Rob or Robbie”
Peter Charles HOPE “Pete”
Trevor HOURIGAN “Trev”
Anthony Harry JOHN “Harry or AJ”
Justin Keith KAY “J”
John James KING “Johnny”
Brett KNECHT “Beefa”
Darren Matthew LATIMER “Rooster”
Allan Robert LEGGE
Barry John LEWIS “Micro”
Anthony John LIEBKE “Tony”
Hilary Cameron Ronald LITTLEMORE “Hil”
Errol Vincent MACK
Robert James McCARTHY “Robbie”
Peter Marshall McNICOL “Scotty”
Jo-Anne MILLS “Jo Jo”
Robert William MINNS “Bob”
Andrew Douglas PATON “Andy”
Jason PEACE “Big Fella”
Phillip Robert PEERS “Phil”
Ian Claude POLZIN “Wombat or Spook”
Kevin Gustav POLZIN “Kev”
Harry Birkenhagen ROWE “Grandad”
Ronald Garnett SHARPE
Eric John SHEPHARD “Nowie”
Brandon William STRICKLAND “Stricko”
Russell Arthur THOMAS “Grandad”
Robert John WALSH “Bent Axle Bob”
Timothy John WALSH “Timmy”
Thomas Vincent WHELAN “Tom or Tommy”
Stanley Richard WHITTINGTON “Stan or Skippy”
Bernard John WILLIAMS “Bernie”
Truck show winners
- Rig of the Day- CJ Bulk Handling ‘Rusteze’ (Sponsored by Total Insurance Agencies)
- Best European – Nolans 21NOL (Sponsored by Women In Trucking Ltd)
- Best Kenworth- 909 JAT
- Best Mack- E9 MACK
- Best Western Star- SENDER
- Best Heavy Recovery- 349 XXH Clayton’s
- Best Light Recovery- H T STOUT Harvey’s
- Best Custom- N PURE 2
- Best Fleet- McMAHONS
- Best Vintage- XQ 87QX
- For more event photos, make sure you pick up a copy of the next print issue of Big Rigs, cover date October 14, or download the free digital version at bigrigs.com.au.