Last weekend, heritage truck owners and enthusiasts gathered in the small outback Queensland town of Winton in a celebration of trucking history.
Saturday September 25 and Sunday September 26 marked the 10th biennial Winton Truckies Reunion. Held as part of the Winton Outback Festival, it was started by Billy Baskett and the late Alan ‘Buddo’ Grant. The duo were also among a group of locals behind the Winton Diamantina Truck and Machinery Museum, which was officially established in 2004.
A retired truckie himself, 74-year-old Baskett drove trucks almost all his working life. He bought his first truck in 1966 – a Ford F-700. “Back when I bought my first few trucks, I did tipper work, then later on I started carting cattle and logs, then started buying Macks and Whites. I carted cattle a fair bit, then did general into Darwin too,” he said.
Now based in Toowoomba, where he has lived since 1975, Baskett had previously lived in various parts of Queensland, including Winton which has always held a special place in his heart.
“Not only do I like the place and the people but one of the other reasons why I’ve continued to support Winton is that my son is also the Mayor of Winton, so there’s family ties there too.”
Baskett was inspired to help set up a museum in Winton after visiting the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. “I lived in western Queensland and drove trucks there. After visiting the museum in Alice Springs, I said to Buddo that we should have a go at setting up a museum here,” he said.
“Winton is arguably one of first places that started running road trains back in the 1940s. There’s a road train on display that’s a 1949 Leyland Hippo complete with trailers and crates. The gentleman that owns it came down and painted all the boards and drove it in the parade.”
Running along Winton’s main road, Elderslie Street, the grand parade was held on Saturday and is always a major highlight of the event – as is the Roy Shaw Memorial Truck Pull, and the Truckie’s Breakfast that was held on Sunday, with awards also handed out.
“The procession goes south to start and then comes back for a second run. There are a lot of people because it’s at the end of the Winton Outback Festival which has been going since 1972,” said Baskett.
“The town is completely chockers and all the caravan parks are full, with a lot of grey nomads and travellers, and younger people too – it attracts people of all ages. The week isn’t just about trucks, but that’s part of it.”
While many of the trucks on show have been lovingly restored, others definitely show their age. “We have many older vehicles on display that are in disrepair and are lined up down the back. They won’t be restored but are worthwhile keeping because of their heritage. You’d be surprised how much interest they receive from the crowd,” revealed Baskett.
“Some date as far back as the 1920s. A man named Rob McIntyre brought one of his grandfather’s trucks there – an International. He had six such vehicles in Mckinlay, which is not far from Winton. Business was going really well for him but he went broke in the Great Depression in the 1930s. This was the first time he’s ever been there with the truck.”
Among the winners of the Truckies Show & Shine were:
- Furthest Travelled Truckie – Darryl Brown
- Most Consistent Truckie – John Price, Roma
- Oldest Truckie – Nev Noski, Blackall
- Truckies Backing Competition: Ben Durkin, Toowoomba (first place); Matt Schultz, Winton (second place); and Eric Ballard Winton (third place)
In the Show and Shine competition, Best Cab Over went to Shaws Transport’s Atkinson eight-wheeler; Best Bonnet was awarded to Curley Cattle Transport’s Kenworth; Best Restored Vintage Truck went to Ballard Transport for its yellow International; Rob Morton from Longreach won the Best Art Paint & Signwriting category for his fully restored 1988 Mack Superliner; and Best Working Truck went to Trevor Capps’ 2003 Western Star.
Jon Kelly of Megatruckers fame also impressed with his 1988 Mack Superliner, which he restored just in time for the show. “It was a mad rush to get the truck ready for Winton. The restoration took three months, but we only had nine days after we picked it up from the paint shop to put it all back together,” Kelly said.