Icons stay in NT for long haul

The dust has set­tled af­ter re­lo­ca­tion threat sur­faced

Big Rigs - - HALL OF FAME - Glenn Mor­ri­son

MORE than 500 truck driv­ers, trans­port work­ers and their fam­i­lies along with some 50 vol­un­teer helpers de­scended on Alice Springs to cel­e­brate the Aus­tralian trans­port in­dus­try and those who work in it.

The oc­ca­sion was the 2018 Shell Rim­ula Na­tional Road Trans­port Hall of Fame Re­union, held on the south­ern out­skirts of the town.

It has long been a tra­di­tion among truck­ies to make the an­nual pil­grim­age to the heart of Aus­tralia for the re­union, but also to hon­our their best at the Shell Rim­ula Wall of Fame In­duc­tion Cer­e­mony.

“When we started the Wall of Fame in 2000 it was to present the coal face of the in­dus­try to the wider com­mu­nity,” says for­mer NT driver and now chair of the Shell Rim­ula Na­tional Road Trans­port Hall of Fame, Liz Martin, 61.

“To show­case that you’ve got bread, you’ve got milk, you’ve got meat, that all came to you on the back of a truck.”

Over the years, the in­dus­try also recog­nised its own icons and peers.

“So now it’s a lit­tle bit of both, and that’s im­por­tant to recog­nise too,” Liz said.

“What we do dif­fer­ently is that we don’t like to wait un­til they die.

“We like to cel­e­brate them while they’re still alive and their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren can ap­pre­ci­ate what their grand­fa­ther has done.”

A 2015 re­union mark­ing the 75th an­niver­sary of World War II con­voys com­ing through Alice Springs from Dar­win saw 13,000 at­tend.

But last year the event be­came mired in un­cer­tainty.

Liz re­signed as CEO but re­mained on the board amid dis­agree­ment over com­pli­ance with the North­ern Ter­ri­tory As­so­ci­a­tions Act, which had forced the Hall of Fame to con­sider mov­ing from the town.

As Liz tells it, the dust has now set­tled.

“We’re re­ally glad that we’re still here in Alice Springs, but we’d ac­tu­ally started to pre­pare this re­union in Bro­ken Hill,” she said.

“And we still will go and do some­thing in Bro­ken Hill be­cause Bro­ken Hill have been very re­cep­tive.

“Hav­ing said that, ev­ery­one in Alice Springs (bar one depart­ment) wanted us to stay here.”

The rea­son for the non-com­pli­ance was that all the Road Trans­port Hall of Fame’s board mem­bers are in­ter­state peo­ple, not North­ern Ter­ri­tory res­i­dents.

“There was a big move in the in­dus­try to go south, closer to our mem­ber­ship,” she said.

“But I think Alice Springs is the place, it’s the heart of the coun­try and cen­tral to ev­ery­one in Aus­tralia.

“Our mem­bers in Perth have as far to go as our mem­bers in Bris­bane.”

Liz has lived in Alice Springs for about 42 years and splits her time be­tween the Red Cen­tre and Port Pirie, as well as a farm at Port Ger­mein, north of Ade­laide.

The two Alice Springs events re­main mile­stones on the na­tional trans­port cal­en­dar, how­ever, this year num­bers were about half of nor­mal at­ten­dance.

“For the 2020 re­union we al­ready have 10,000 booked in, and that’s ac­tu­ally tak­ing up most of my time right now, not the two years be­tween, 18 and 19,” Liz said.

“The (two events) tie in to­gether, the re­union is ac­tu­ally our ma­jor fundraiser for the year.

“We’re still fully funded by in­dus­try: We don’t take govern­ment or coun­cil fund­ing.

“Then they can’t tell us how to run it.”

This year’s event ran over three days and in­cluded a Truck­ies’ Race Day at Alice Springs Turf Club, a gala Satur­day night din­ner and a farewell bar­be­cue at Stu­art’s Bush Kitchen.

Shell has spon­sored the Wall of Fame since its in­cep­tion.

PHOTO: GLENN MOR­RI­SON

HERE TO STAY: Liz Martin is re­lieved that the Hall of Fame lo­ca­tion dis­pute is be­hind her.

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