The big re­union

Re­liv­ing Roc­cisano’s good ol’ days at the Over­lan­der

Big Rigs - - NEWS - — Ker­mie

BACK in the ’60s the world had The Bea­tles, The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Don Roc­cisano had fruit or­chards in the Shep­par­ton re­gion.

In 1969, as man landed on the moon, Don de­cided, along with his son, Cosmo, to launch Roc­cisano Trans­port.

From car­ry­ing fruit to the Mel­bourne and Syd­ney mar­kets, the Roc­cisanos soon branched out into gen­eral freight.

Their big break came when Tucker Box dog food came to Shep­par­ton, fol­lowed by Rosella, Uni Foods, Heinz, Reckitt and Cole­man, Eta Foods, Al­lied Mills and An­chor Foods.

In no time they had built up a blue-chip clien­tele.

Don’s first drive was a But­ter Box, a sin­gle-drive tray truck with a pusher.

He then went on to 1418 Benzs. He bought an S2 Ken­worth fol­lowed by a Louisville then back to Ken­worth, a brand he stayed with un­til the busi­ness ended in 1994.

Don had the first B-dou­bles in the Goul­burn Val­ley. At their peak, Roc­cisano Trans­port ran more than 80 trucks.

At the end of the work­ing week Roc­cisano em­ploy­ees let their hair down at the Over­lan­der Ho­tel in Shep­par­ton and it was here that past driver Barry Perry or­gan­ised for about 100 of them to come to­gether for their first re­union since 1994 when the com­pany was sold to Scotts.

Peter Granada was one of the early em­ploy­ees, join­ing in 1977.

“Mick Ar­gentino, who’s worked for them back in ’71, has come down from Tully for the re­union,” Peter said.

“Back then there was only sea­sonal work here so Mick would travel be­tween states.

“They reckon Roc­cisano was hard to work for but when you went else­where you’d think to your­self he wasn’t that bad at all.

“From nine to five he was a type of bloke who when he said jump, you would say how high.

“As a busi­ness Roc­cisano Trans­port was very, very highly re­garded. His pre­sen­ta­tion was next to none – the colours of the trucks, the me­chan­i­cals, the works.

“They used to go pretty well too.”

Ivan McCarthy used to sub for Roc­cisano in 1976, hav­ing grown up with Cosmo.

“I used to call him the dago who lived at the end of the street,” Ivan said.

“Well, he had the last laugh be­cause he was my boss. We’re still good mates to this day.

“If you were ever short of a quid, you only had to go to the of­fice and ask for a bit up­front, they never knocked you back.

“I bought my­self a lit­tle farm and was spend­ing money like wa­ter.

“I was of­ten left short so would go into the of­fice and ask for a sub for the subby. They al­ways helped me out. They knew I wasn’t go­ing any­where.

“I still have that 1418 Benz I used back then.” “Gavin Frap­pel chipped in. “Back in the day Don would let us have our names on the side of the trucks,” he said.

“Maybe there was method in the mad­ness as we all know that Ken­worths all look the same.

“We had our mo­ments. One day Cozzi is out run­ning around the back of the trail­ers chas­ing me over some­thing I’d done.

“Dead set, I raced into the work­shop and shouted out for them to call the cop­pers.

“We would back-load tin plate out of AIS, Port Kem­bla back to SPC Ard­mona and Ton­gala in the days when they used to make tins in this area.

“Af­ter that it was Syd­ney, Bris­bane, Ade­laide, New­cas­tle, gen­eral run-of-the-mill stuff.

“Even though we were out on the road all the time we all knew each other well. We used to get to­gether in this very pub of­ten on a Fri­day night.”

The turnout to the Roc­cisano re­union was a good in­di­ca­tor of how highly re­garded the com­pany was.

“The joint will al­ways hold a place in our heart and I think that’s shown by the turnout we’ve had here to­day,” Barry said.

“Some drivers have passed on but we’ve had their chil­dren turn up to rep­re­sent them, which is fan­tas­tic.”

In 1994 Scotts bought into Roc­cisano Trans­port.

Things didn’t work out so Scotts took the lot and the Roc­cisano name passed into his­tory – a his­tory re­vived by those at­tend­ing the re­union.

Given the at­ten­dance, we’re sure they’ll all come to­gether again soon.

PHOTO:GRAHAM HARSANT

BACK TO­GETHER: The group of drivers and op­er­a­tors en­joyed catch­ing up and swap­ping sto­ries.

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