When Peter Wickham, co-founder of Wickham Freightlines, put his order in for the 60,000th Australian made Kenworth, he was asked to give a speech. “I thought, better still, I’ll write a song,” he said.
He was handed the keys by Andrew Hadjikakou, Managing Director of PACCAR Australia, at a special celebratory event at the Bayswater factory in Melbourne in December 2017. And it was there that Peter first performed his song, to a glowing reception.
Peter sang ‘60,000th’ in front of a crowd of 600 people and it received a standing ovation. That night it also clocked up 39,000 hits on YouTube.
“I made up the song and sung it there and that was the start of it. I wrote the song to record my memories and what I’ve gone through. I bought a guitar when I was about 40 years old. I taught myself how to play. I’ve sort of always been making up songs and that sort of thing. ‘60,000th’ is about the history of my family and the business,” said Peter.
Now, just a few years on, at the age of 79, he’s released that song – along with three other tracks – on his first CD, called Along Life’s Highway. He’s also due to appear on a new Channel 7 Series called Ozzie Truck’n Families.
The song was recorded at Chris Cook Studio in Kyogle, NSW, with the help of Chris Cook, who worked with Peter on the arrangements, Chris O-Reilly and David Waddington.
‘60,000th’ talks about when Peter and his family first moved to Killarney, their hardship as a farming family, through to he and his brother Angus buying their first truck to transport potatoes from their Killarney farm:
“Our father he was not impressed, he thought we’d run amuck, when we owed all this money on our first Kenworth truck,” the lyrics read.
Peter and Angus founded Wickham Freightlines together. “My brother Angus was the trucking man and I was the farming man,” said Peter, who in the song talks about the loss of his beloved brother, who passed away at only 58.
‘60,000th’ reveals the struggles and triumphs of the Wickhams and their business, through to the purchase of the 60,000th Kenworth.
Peter has now been semi-retired for the past 10 years or so. “I’m not as involved in the trucking business but I still get involved in the farming business,” he said.
Wickham Freightlines has now grown its fleet to around 160 trucks, mostly Kenworths, and it’s still very much a family business. It’s now headed up by Peter’s sons-in-law Graham Keogh and Darren Eather, with his daughter Donna Keogh in accounts; while his daughter Kerrie-Ann and her husband Hayden Lamb manage the cattle business and the potato processing and packing factory.
Big Rigs has 100 copies of ‘Along Life’s Highways’ to give away. Click here for details on how you can win!