A fleet of B-doubles, semi-trailers, sideloaders and tilt trays, among others, headed to Corryong, Victoria, to deliver the second part of the 42 shipping containers donated by the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Webb Dock, Melbourne.
It was a commitment made by VICT and the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) initially declared in July 2020 – just prior to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
VTA CEO Peter Anderson, coordinated the February 20-21 initiative, firstly asking Bushfire Recovery Victoria to identify the fire victims in need of assistance and then he followed through with a personal visit to review the locations, before determining where to place the 21 containers.
The main drop off location was on a truck-bypass route to the north of Corryong on a gravel road called ‘Stock Route’ Road.
Anderson had identified individual drop-off locations on his initial visit and detailed the locations, contacts and mobile phone numbers of every farmer/fire victim. It was quite a task, according to VICT Non-Executive Director, Philip Lovel, who travelled with Anderson to represent the VICT.
“On Saturday 20 February after a few false starts due to COVID lockdowns, we were away,” Lovel said.
“We arrived in Corryong about 12.30pm on the Saturday. It was hot (34°C) and dusty.
“All 21 containers were dropped off on the roadside by 2.30pm Saturday for delivery on the tilt trays over the following 24 hours.”
Anderson had tremendous support from his VTA member transport companies which included:
- Cahill Transport – Two B-doubles and two loan trailers.
- Ettamoogah Rail Hub Wodonga – A sideloader and tilt tray.
- DSN Transport – One B-doubles, a semi-trailer and a sideloader.
- Nationwide Towing – Tilt tray.
- L Arthur Transport – Semi-Trailer.
- Hi Haul Transport – Tilt Tray.
- Freestone’s Transport – Two prime movers.
“With the fantastic assistance from the local TOWONG Shire Council Bushfire representatives, Kaye Nankervis and Tony Irwin, we commenced to load the containers for local distribution,” said Lovel.
“Each site had its own specific issues, but Peter and Kaye soon sorted the drivers out with clear instructions and coordination with the elated fire victims receiving the containers as anticipated.”
The locations were all over the surrounding areas including:
- Colac Colac
- Thowlga Valley
- Nariel Valley
- Mt Alfred
Anderson said many of the locations were difficult to get to and some were more than 40 kilometres from the Corryong drop off.
“To make things more difficult the farm sites were in hilly country and recent torrential rain had washed out many roads and farm property entrances,” said Lovel.
“However, the drivers kept at their tasks. Not once did they complain or comment on how difficult it was to do the deliveries.
“There were no issues with safety, or communications. All trucks had GPS, and these worked a treat in the high country and valleys making the deliveries as quick and efficient as possible.”
Lovel said VICT were proud to be involved with this project.
“Never at the time of offering to donate the 42 containers did we think what an effort it would take to complete,” he said.
“It is very easy to just donate the containers, but someone had to deliver them to all the locations. This was a task Peter and his members from the VTA took on. Well done to them all.”
Lovel has expressed his gratitude – a big thank you – to: Michael Cahill (Cahill Transport), Colin and Kellie Rees (Ettamoogah Rail Hub), Danny Sebdick (DSN), Bill Smith (Hi Haul), Paul Freestone (Freestone’s Transport), Dave Farvis (Nationwide Towing) and Vincent Arthur (L. Arthur Transport).
“Credit must also go to Peter Anderson for the way he set up and delivered the two projects in East Gippsland and Northern Victoria,” Lovel said.
“Peter estimates that the entire project had a cost of about $110,000 including the containers, drivers time, fuel, accommodation, food, and general expenses without costing of the trucks which were loaned out for the few days.
“All drivers offered their time free and in the nature of a donation. This should be recognised.”
Lovel also reserved praise for Kaye Nankervis who stayed on the job throughout the entire operation coordinating with the farmers and feeding the drivers.
“She was of outstanding operational assistance to Peter Anderson,” he said.
“Peter did all the selecting of containers on specific trucks and the direction of the container doors to ensure they faced the right way when unloaded.
“Peter said everything went off as planned. There were no unforeseen problems. Everyone did their job and the operation was completed about 2pm on Sunday.”