It was a courageous decision on the part of the Tassie Truckies’ Memorial Wall committee to proceed with this year’s service, with Covid issues and restrictions, and a foul weather forecast.
But it proved to again be a success, to their relief, with approximately 150 people turning up despite restrictions and the heat, and six beautifully detailed trucks lined up.
Another year had passed and here we were again on our way to Epping Forest on Saturday, January 15, with rising temperatures and a threatening sky, but happily, though it stayed hot, it remained pleasant for the folk who assembled at the Epping Forest Ampol Roadhouse for the eighth memorial service at the memorial wall there, and for the dedication of 11 new plaques. This in fact brings the number of plaques on the wall to 172.
There was great country music from Garry Pengelly and Apache to entertain those who attended prior to the service, delivered from the trailer/stage towed by Jonathan Price’s immaculate Huon Delivery Services 2019 K200, a raffle to raise funds, and a successful stall selling wall merchandise.
Starting punctually at noon, Michael Geeves again ably acted as master of ceremonies, and welcomed the crowd and acknowledged the many people who have worked to make the day a success.
Jonathan Price, on behalf of the wall committee, welcomed everyone who had attended, from all over Tasmania, then Jess Johnson read the beautiful and emotional Truckies Poem.
Following the poem, Adam Hodgetts thanked all who had contributed to the day’s memorial, including a good mention of Big Rigs and its continuing support for the memorial wall.
The names were then read out for those to be commemorated this year as follows: Michael ‘Rollsy’ Rolls, William ‘Jimmy’ Gangell, Chris ‘Fossil’ Walder, Rodney ‘Rod’ Turnbull, Rodney William Gee, Terry ‘Clarky’ Clark, Anthony ‘Tony’ Watson, Matthew Allan Kettle, Leon Batchelor, Byron ‘Bonza’ Bonney and Leigh ‘Licka’ Lawson.
The Reverend Allen Bulmer then delivered a sympathetic and thoughtful address, covering the tragic sacrifices made by truck drivers, and their families, before blessing the wall, and the 11 new plaques that had been installed, and those gathered there. The Lord’s Prayer was then respectfully read.
Adrian Coulsun then read out a moving and emotional tribute to Terry Clark and all those lost in the industry, and to all those remembered on the wall, and then a one minute’s silence was observed.
Floral tributes were placed against the wall from: The Tasmanian Memorial Wall, The Victorian Truck Drivers’ Memorial, and the White Hill Truck Drivers’ Memorial in South Australia, being laid by Jonathan Price, Adam Hodgetts and Tia Hodgetts.
The flags were respectfully lowered to half-mast by Wayne Pearce and Bluey Price, and then whilst Pipe Major John Fardon from the Launceston RSL Pipes and Drums played Amazing Grace, the family and friends of those newly commemorated 11 men filed quietly along placing red and white roses in the niches alongside their respective plaques.
The 2022 memorial was yet another moving and emotional day, one thoughtfully organised with great efficiency and due reverence by the committee.
We once again repeat that the road transport industry in Tasmania is indeed fortunate to have this central, well maintained and accessible monument, at Epping Forest, centrally placed between Hobart and the north of the state, to commemorate the lives of those many drivers who have sadly departed over the years.
The wall, as it has become affectionately known, is conveniently situated adjacent to the Epping Forest Ampol Roadhouse and Truckstop, and it worthily satisfies the deep need for, and appreciation of, a quiet and pleasant place for people to come and pay their respects to lost family and friends.
Passing often by this memorial we regularly see people there taking some time out to remember their loved ones, work mates and friends.
We can confidently look forward to this now traditional annual event continuing on into the far foreseeable future, and if the committee can brave the restrictions and inconvenience of the last year’s Covid pandemic and still provide this truly moving service, then the Tasmanian transport family is in good hands.
Jonathan, Adam and Tia indicated their satisfaction at the final turn out on the day, and felt the six trucks who turned up was a satisfactory number, leaving plenty of room for the service to be held without undue stress or distraction.
For our part, we thought it was done properly and tastefully, and a moving and fitting tribute to those men from the Tasmanian transport industry who have lost their lives.