A truckie’s story that was lost but not forgotten

Donny Williams once lived and breathed trucks, but due to dementia, he no longer recalls his trucking days. Now his granddaughter is on the hunt for anyone who can help to piece together his story.

A veteran truckie, Donny – now 75 – was on the road for many years, but suffered a terrible accident while behind the wheel two years ago. Though he did initially get back behind the wheel, it was only short-lived.

“He’s been driving for the longest time. Until his accident he still drove but it eventually put him into retirement and he got dementia. Trucks were his whole world. His life was on the road and I was so lucky to be raised by him and around trucks. But I’m left wondering who he was on the road,” said his granddaughter Tamika Williams, 21.

Donny started driving trucks at around the age of 19 and originally lived in NSW before moving to Queensland. He travelled all over the country in his truck, with Tamika lucky enough to join him on many trips.

Donny and Tamika Williams.

“I was in the truck all the time as a kid. We used to love singing old songs, especially Slim Dusty, that was his favourite. He always used to make sausages and baked beans on the side of the road for breakfast when I was with him,” she said.

But sadly Donny can’t recall his many stories from the road. “He doesn’t remember driving trucks anymore so I really like hearing about what he did so I can hold his memories for him.

“He also frequently talked about a man named Terry Wilson. I know that was his best friend. That’s as far back as I can remember from when he would talk to me on the road when I was young.

“My grandfather is an absolutely amazing man, and has 100 per cent left a massive impact on people’s lives around him. It amazes me how much he really loved driving and how many people love him just as much as me,” Tamika added.

He drove a bronze 104 called ‘Bronzed Aussie’ for many years and also worked for companies that included Exodas, Rogers Transport, Nolan’s and MRT.

When Tamika initially put the call out in a message on Facebook, numerous people immediately recognised Donny and shared their memories, with many commenting on what a “top bloke” he was.

On Facebook, Stefan Slattie said he had worked with Donny at Coastal Express around 20 years ago. “I remember when they picked up the Bronze 104 and named it Attitude. I gave Donnie a lift down to the sign writers to pick it up. I’m still in touch with Terry Wilson and he keeps me updated on Donnie’s condition. So sad, he was a top bloke.”

After reading Slattie’s comment, Tamika said she never knew about the truck’s nickname but remembers a sticker on his car that said ‘attitude’. “That’s amazing to know where it all began,” she said.

As the story goes, the 104 was supposed to be painted brown with a gold stripe to match two SARs, but it ended up being painted bronze. “When I first saw the truck I thought it looked terrible, then after the sign writing and pin stripes, totally changed the look of it,” Slattie added.

Nathan Bennett commented, “He certainly was a hard worker mate, that’s one thing I do remember about him, he could punch out the k’s that’s for sure.”

While Glenn Kennedy wrote, “Yeah I used to know Don when he drove for Cluffy and then Exodas, used to run Brissy with him, top bloke.”

Neill Barnes said, “I have so many memories of spending time with you Donny. Used to love going to the WIlliams house as a kid and checking out the Bronze Aussie or whatever Don was driving… Learnt so much from Don and enjoyed lots of catch ups on the road.”

Peter Spalding added, “Yeah I remember him well. Used to travel the coast with him. Sorry to hear about his accident and illness. I remember when he got the Bronzed Aussie. I have an idea if I remember correctly, he also did a bit of stunt driving in Mad Max. He took the Mack out there and no one could drive it.”

And Alexander Buckley wrote, “Donny’s me mate, he drove a blue T909 Kenworth when I was at MRT. He’s a good fella and I always had time for him.”

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