The transport industry has paid tribute to Barry Attkins, a respected interstate and short-haul truck driver who spent his life on the road.
Attkins was laid to rest earlier this month after a long battle with cancer, with a funeral procession of trucks departing from his house in Muswellbrook, NSW.
Speaking to Big Rigs, his grandson David Attkins described him as a “pure gentleman of the highway” and said he was very well-liked by his fellow truckies.
“Pop started driving trucks when he was about 17 years old and he was still on the road part-time when he went out at age 86,” he said.
“He always loved his trucking. He gave up driving full-time when he was 78 and he regretted it.
“He would say that if he hadn’t given up working full-time he might still be going strong.”
Barry worked for various different companies over the years, carting everything from coal to kangaroos.
Much of his interstate career centred around transporting refrigerated goods, running from Lake Munmorah to Western NSW with a company called Lake Lines.
He earned himself the nickname “Green Lizard” when he first started driving.
“The guy who owned Lake Lines bought Pop a brand-new Ford Louisville, and it was green,” David said.
“One of the guys just started calling him ‘Green Lizard’ and it stuck.”
David followed Barry’s footsteps into the trucking industry – against his Pop’s wishes at first.
“I remember when I was young, maybe five or six years old, Pop had just come home from a trip away.
“He pulled the truck up out the front and of course I bolted outside to look at it.
“I said ‘Pop, when I grow up, I’m going to drive trucks too.’
“And he said, ‘If I find out you’re driving a truck, I’ll kick your backside!”
However, Barry did allow his grandson to ride along in the truck with him, and eventually came around to the idea of him working as a driver.
“Whenever I could, I was in the truck with him,” David said.
“It didn’t matter where we were going, I wanted to go.
“When I eventually became a truck driver, Pop was pretty proud.”
Barry’s funeral in Muswelbrook was well attended, with about 150 people present, and 15 trucks taking part in a special procession in his honour.
“I’ve never considered myself to be anyone special,” David said.
“But the way everyone came together for the family, and for me, was unbelievable.
“There were a lot of blokes there who didn’t even know him, they just came because they knew me.
“Some of them had driven two or three hours to get there.”
David is a driver for Compass Transport in Newcastle and said his boss, Colin Pasquale, went out of his way to help him give Barry a great send-off.
“I’ve been driving a Mac Trident for the last year and a half but it’s due to be sold because it’s getting too old,” he said.
“We’ve got brand-new trucks ordered through Kenworth but because they are going to take so long to get here, he ended up buying me a Kenworth T610 to fill the gap.
“And it’s not quite finished yet, but Colin let me have it for the weekend and we were able to put Pop on the back of that.
“He also let us have the Mac Trident so my dad drove that. Nothing is ever a problem with Col and I’ll be forever grateful.”