Icons stay in NT for long haul
The dust has settled after relocation threat surfaced
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.
HERE TO STAY: Liz Martin is relieved that the Hall of Fame location dispute is behind her.