The term ‘luminary’ used by Shell Rimula’s Nick Lubransky is an apt description of those men and women who were inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame this year.
They have all been leaders in their chosen field – be it simply behind the wheel, running a successful trucking company or in an organisational capacity.
They have no doubt inspired those around them. Another equally fitting title could well be legends – maybe not to the world at large, but certainly to their families and all those who know them.
Most were able to attend this year’s event in Alice Springs with loved ones present. Some have sadly passed on and their awards were accepted by family members. Some knew they were being inducted; to others it was a complete surprise, with their attendance being orchestrated on some pretext by their families.
The resultant atmosphere was one of the aforesaid surprise, joy and more than one or two shed tears as they came on stage to accept their awards.
Following in family footsteps
Ben Smart was on hand to witness his dad David and pop Graeme inducted. Ninety-year-old Graeme was born at Yack- andandah, Victoria, and has managed to move all of 23 kilometres to nearby Beechworth.
Under the adage of necessity is the mother of invention, Graeme found his first truck, a Bedford was too small to carry all the 44-gallon fuel Esso drums he was delivering to trucks and cars around the area. So, he cut and extended the tray to increase the load. It was a practice he repeated many times with both tray trucks and also with trailers, adding axles when necessary.
44-gallon drums weigh a bit, so Graeme was an early adopter of the forklift, owning one of the first in the Beechworth area.
Son David was destined to follow in Graeme’s footsteps into the transport industry.
From helping dad move those Esso drums he bought his own truck at age 22 – a Scania – and started running the eastern seaboard, delivering amongst other freight the newly invent- ed automatic teller machines (ATMs).
“I got to see a lot of the country delivering them,” said Dave.
Moving to Queensland around 2010 David and wife, Sharon started Smartys Bobcat and Tippers which they run to this day.
His love of the Kenworth brand is strong, to the point where, as well as owning a couple of classic examples, he has built a 1.4m high x 2.5m long scale model of a Cabover Aerodyne.
Powered by a Briggs and Stratton it will do 80km/h and holds 24 cartons of his favourite tipple. The dog trailer holds a couple of BBQs to complement the liquid refreshments.
Gratifying and humbling
Wall of Fame inductee Graeme Sutton from Numurkah, Victoria, runs a fleet of 19 trucks but, like all present started out small, in his case back in the early 1980s with a 1418 Mercedes-Benz.
“They were a legend truck in that era,” said Graeme. “I was at the tail end of it but they made a lot of people a lot of money back in those days. They were just bulletproof – slow but steady, got the job done and got there without breakdown.”
These days Graeme’s fleet is all Kenworth.
“My son worked for Graham Thompson Kenworth in Shepparton, so obviously we have lent that way, as you would.
“Unknown to me, Gerard Michele from Thompsons, along with our insurance guy, John Griffiths flew up to see my induction, which was gratifying and humbling.”
Totally stunned by honour
Garry ‘Rover’ Williams thought he was filling in time at the awards before going to a wedding in Alice Springs.
Daughter Hanna and partner, Helen conspired to get him there and wanted it to be a surprise. Poor Rover looked totally stunned when his name was announced.
Fifty-three years of driving saw Rover behind the wheel of just about everything. From the ubiquitous 1418 Benz he drove a variety of Kenworth and Mack models, Bedford, UD, Volvo, Fords and Freightliner – you name it, Rover’s driven it. His personal history is intertwined with the trucks on display at Alice Springs.
“The reason Rover was inducted is because he’s a genuine Australian trucking hero – all truckers are heroes,” said Hanna.
“But it’s nice to be recognised for the work that they do, the miles travelled and the stress it puts on relationships. We all know it’s not easy for anyone.”
If you are wondering where ‘Rover’ came from, a mate once jokingly said that Garry was always at his place because he was “sniffing around the wife”.
Master storyteller caught off guard
Frank Bilato was also surprised when his daughter who was reading out the stories of the inductees called out his name. Born in Darwin and like many present, Frank started driving before he was legally allowed.
He began an apprenticeship, but it just didn’t compete with driving the big rigs. After driving for Gulf Transport, he joined his brothers Robert and John in purchasing G&S Transport in Alice Springs.
A memorable trip for dad and son, Ryan was when his back trailer broke through the road and got bogged.
Getting the truck out meant walking a grader 130km over three days to dig out the trailer. Ryan helpfully remarked, “Dad, I don’t think you should have parked in the hole.”
Frank is also credited with being a master storyteller and a master chef.
Fitting tribute to Razorback legends
A new innovation this year was the introduction of the History Makers Award and it fittingly went to the six legendary stalwarts from western Sydney whose brave stand changed the course of trucking history.
Of course, we are talking of Razorback and the ordinary hard-working blokes who became extraordinary for their actions.
Present at the Hall to accept their awards were Kelly Zelvis and Ben Stevens, two of Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens’s four children. They were joined by Spencer and Gloria Watling along with Carle and Belinda Goodfellow. Due to ill health Barry “Sleepy’ Grimson was unable to attend, as was the case with the late Colin ‘CB’ Bird’s daughter, Donna Britton. All attempts to locate Jack ‘Dynamite’ Hibbert were sadly unsuccessful.
These men and their families are worthy recipients of the inaugural History Makers Award. Big Rigs will bring readers an in-depth interview with Ted’s children, Kelly and Ben as well as Spencer and Gloria Watling in a future issue.
As always, the awards were followed by convivial drinks at Stuarts Kitchen where tall tales became taller and the truth somewhat more irrelevant. The families continued into the night at the dinner held in the Kenworth Pavilion, dancing and talking the night away.
And as always, Nick Prus and his staff and volunteers produced a memorable event which will stay with those present forever. Congratulations to all the inductees and their families. Your recognition is richly deserved.
2023 Wall of Fame inductees
James ‘Jimmy’ Leahy
Janice Allan (RIP)
George Badenoch (RIP)
Andrew ‘Ryan’s Truckie’ Baulch
Robert ‘Bob’ Blake (RIP)
Merv Cresswell OAM (RIP)
Brian ‘Darc’ Darcy
Geoff Dewey (RIP)
Jeffrey ‘Eattsy’ Eatts
Frederick ‘Laurie’ Gibson (RIP)
Pat Gibson (RIP)
Glen ‘Joe’ Gleeson
Desmond ‘Des’ Goodfield
Garry ‘Gilly’ Goulthorpe (RIP)
Jodie Black – nee Goulthorpe
Phillip ‘Phil’ Hannant
Roy ‘Inspector Gadget’ Harlan
John Hatchman (RIP)
Gary ‘Stack’ Hayes
John ‘Kingy’ King
Thomas ‘Tommy’ Lopez
Matthew ‘Matt’ Mauger
Trevor ‘Grumpy McKinnis
Raymond ‘Plugger’ Milner
Allister ‘Macca’ Moffitt
Stewart Moore – aka ‘Nipper’, ‘Stewy’ and ‘Old Man Rivers’
David Rogers (RIP)
Ronald ‘Wood Pecker’ Shelton
David ‘Smarty’ Smart
Bruce ‘Stanesy’ Stanes
The late John Symes
Michael ‘Greg’ Symes
Robert ‘Symo’ Symonds
The late Brent Tragarr
Ian ‘Trick’ Trickey
Leigh ‘Grinner’ Walton (RIP)
Philip ‘Rocket’ White
Garry ‘Rover’ Williams
Emmanual ‘Casey’ Zarb (RIP)
Industry Icon: Bruce McIver OAM
History Makers Award: Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens (RIP), Spencer & Gloria Watling, Carle & Belinda Goodfellow, Colin ‘CB’ Bird (RIP), Barry ‘Sleepy’ Grimson, Jack ‘Dynamite’ Hibbert