A new hall and a truck driving and heavy machinery school are on the drawing board for a resurgent National Road Transport Museum in Alice Springs.
Nick Prus, chief executive officer of the Road Transport Historical Society (RTHS), the group responsible for the running and maintenance of the spiritual home of the trucking industry, revealed the plans to Big Rigs during the recent 2023 Festival of Transport celebrations.
After spending in the region of $230,000 in repairs and maintenance during his two and a half years in the role, Prus said it made commercial sense to pitch the NT Government for a replacement hall.
“When I looked at it strategically, it came down to a simple case of continuing as we are forever or basically starting over and building a new hall – and the latter is what we intend to do,” Prus said.
“We contacted the NT Government some three or four months ago, pointed out that repairs could easily go to $3 million and suggested replacement instead. Their immediate response was, ‘Okay, show us what you’ve got’.
“So, we hired a local architect and builder, and together we’ve created a blueprint to build a new hall – on the existing site I hasten to add.”
Prus said the new entrance will be in the area where Stuart’s Kitchen (which is not fit for purpose and must be demolished) now sits.
It will house reception, retail and administration areas and will lead directly to a new Shell Rimula Hall of Fame, replacing the existing setup in the old original shed and which, due to lack of space makes it extremely difficult to find an inductee’s name.
“The design is for that to extend all the way to the Memorial Pond which is also extremely important to those who visit,” Prus added.
“It will allow us to place all the inductee plaques in chronological order and leave room to cover at least the next 10 years.
“We’ll fill the empty space with vehicles and move them to other areas as we add inductees. The Hall of Fame is at the heart and soul of the complex and should rightly take centre stage.”
Along with these advancements, the plan is to also build a truck driving and heavy machinery school on adjacent land, next to the Kenworth Pavilions.
Again, this is very much supported by the government – and Prus hastens to add, also the opposition.
“That would be a separate identity, but it would be run by us, together with a training organisation.
“We have had great interest beyond government as well. A lot of truck companies love the idea, to the extent that many have indicated considering sponsorship support for it down the line. The thinking is that they may sponsor a trainee in return for, say two years contracted employment with that company. We all know the difficulty in finding drivers and industry-trained tradespersons so it would be a win/win situation.”
When asked about the timeline for redevelopment Prus was bullish, with funds for a visibility study already in the pipeline.
“We might not get the whole millions that we want initially, but while I have a heartbeat I’ll be fighting for it all. I’m hoping that if everything goes as agreed, we should start building next year. The plan is that it won’t interfere too much with visi- tor flow.”
Of course, sponsorship is extremely important to the ongoing success of the Transport Hall of Fame and through the recent turbulent years, Prus and his team have been grateful for their ongoing support.
Nick Lubransky, transport marketing manager for Viva Energy, the licensee for Shell in Australia, has vocally expressed the company’s continued support for the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame induction ceremony.
Similarly, the Kenworth Dealer Council continues to support the hall to the extent that plans are afoot for a third Kenworth Pavilion.
Other companies are also expressing a desire to be ‘in the action’ with Prus receiving a call from Daimler in recent days with a view to becoming involved again af- ter a sojourn. It’s a natural fit with the 1418 and 1419 Mercedes-Benz models, as well as the Freightliner brand an integral part of Australian trucking history.
Iveco, who donated its last Australian built truck, an ACCO Euro 5 unit to the hall – arriving just two day before the reunion – has also expressed a desire for involve- ment of some sort.
With the ACCO and International brands legendary in days gone by, Prus is in conversation to hopefully create a dedicated area to the brand.
With building hopefully to commence next year, the 2024 Reunion will possibly present some logistical problems but we’re sure Prus will be up to the task. Meanwhile, he is excited about ‘The Big One’ in 2025 which will celebrate 30 years of the Transport Hall of Fame’s existence.
Prus talks excitedly about the convoy through town, a show and shine and catering for up to 10,000 truck loving patrons and legends of the industry.