crawlin’ the hume
Thousands of people lined old sections of the Hume Highway to admire over 235 historic trucks as they rumbled through Victorian towns long-bypassed from Highway 31. Tamara Whitsed speaks with the drivers who crawled the Hume
When 235 historic trucks travelled the old Hume Highway from Melbourne to Albury in April, the camaraderie was as much a feature of the run as the trucks themselves.
Crawlin’ the Hume is a biennial truck run which unites old highway runners and truck enthusiasts of all ages. The trucks left Campbellfield, on Melbourne’s north, early on Saturday morning, April 16.
Thousands of people waited along the old highway to greet the Kenworths, Internationals, Macks, Dodges, Whites, Peterbilts, Volvos, Fords, Mercedes, Atkinsons, Reos, Bedfords, Commers, Chevrolets, Diamond Ts, Austins, Studebakers and Fodens.
One of the oldest trucks was David Daws’ 1923 Mack AC which he carried behind his 1961 Mack B61. David says it would have been impractical to drive the AC on the old Hume. “It only does about 15km/h flat out, so it’d be a pretty long trip from Craigieburn to Albury. I’d be the snail on the road.”
Brian Smith’s 1923 Ford TT was the oldest truck to make the journey under its own steam – or rather its own fuel. “I dropped the coil out of it and then I popped another coil in it and away it went – didn’t miss a beat,” Brian says. “It cost me about 10 minutes.”
Brian’s T Model has now completed three Crawlin’ the Humes and two Haulin’ the Humes.
A 1926 T Model Ford also conquered this year’s run. Its owner, Ray Smith of Rochester, says driving his T Model over Pretty Sally in top gear was the highlight of the weekend. His Ford reached a top speed of 65km/h for a while on some of the flatter straights. This was the first time Ray had taken part in the event.
Trucks had to be 25 years or older to register. Some of the younger trucks, like Norm Cornfoot’s 1985 SAR Gold Nugget Kenworth SAR, were impressive blinged-up representations of their era. (The SAR is Number 28 of the 30 limited edition Gold Nuggets.)
Chris Darwin’s 1986 Kenworth SAR is unrestored and displays its wear and tear like a badge of honour. “All I’ve done is polish it and made it shiny,” he says. “That’s all I’m going to do. It’s still got stone chips and it’s just the perfect example of a good working truck.”
The Cummins Big Cam 400 was in great condition when Chris purchased the SAR from Babinda in Far North Queensland last year. It was originally a Finemore truck.
“It’s got two hatches in the bonnet which only
Finemores had,” Chris says. “So you don’t have to chuck the bonnet up to check the oil and the water.” The feature seems unnecessary – Chris rarely needs to top up the oil or water.
Graham Wright’s 1965 International AB 184D stood out among the many recently restored trucks. He bought the truck in 2014 and finished restoring it last September. Then he turned his attention to a 1965 McGrath trailer. “This is the maiden voyage for the truck and trailer,” Graham says.
The trucks travelled from Campbellfield to Winton in the morning, following the old
Hume where possible. After passing through Wallan they climbed Pretty Sally and continued on through Broadford, Tallarook, Seymour, Mangalore, Avenel, Locksley, Longwood, Euroa, Violet Town, Baddaginnie and Benalla.
The lunch break at Winton Motor Raceway gave truck enthusiasts a close-up look at the vehicles and an opportunity to speak with drivers.
When Gordon Russell of Colac parked his
1963 International R190 at Winton its distinctive shade of blue (it’s actually called ‘peacock green’) attracted the attention of Josh Porker of Mildura. Josh was at the raceway to race motorbikes, but from a distance he recognised Gordon’s International as the truck his father and grandfather had driven during his childhood. Gordon was thrilled about the coincidental meeting and proud to show Josh the restored truck.
Max Pollard, 74, drove his restored International R200 which carried a 1929 Chev. It was a drive down memory lane for Max who spent 50 years driving trucks.
Rex Shiel of Kilsyth was in his element wandering around the trucks at Winton. The 89-yearold drove trucks for more than 60 years for companies including Panuccis, Brambles and Cootes. During his career he spent time in many of the makes and models he saw over the weekend. He enjoyed talking with old highway mates.
George Goold of Bribie Island and Denis Robertson of Sydney travelled together in George’s K Series Kenworth which carried two of George’s Diamond T 630s.
One had been restored in Oppermans Transport colours, and the other in Cromack & Tranter colours.
While 235 trucks were officially registered, some estimates have the number of trucks at Winton closer to 285.
After lunch the trucks continued along the old Hume to Albury. At Wangaratta, Canny Carrying Co’s 1956 International AS 160, driven by David Connor, was a local favourite.
A heritage festival at Chiltern coincided with the historic truck run.
Crawlin’ the Hume was organised by Rob French, Roger Marchetti and Trevor Davis, with assistance from volunteers who helped on the day. Rob travelled to Albury with Darrell Killick in Darrell’s 1969 W Model Kenworth which pulled a trailer borrowed from a similar New South Wales event, Haulin’ the Hume.
“It was great to be a passenger on the highway and have a good look around and have a lot of fun and laughs with another old truckie,” says Rob who drove his 1964 Peterbilt 351 in previous Crawls.
Roger had hoped to drive his White Road Commander and is disappointed the restoration was not finished in time. He travelled as a passenger in other historic trucks.
Trevor drove his brand new Isuzu which carried his restored 1927 International SL-34.
The run finished at Albury Racing Club where 280 people discussed highlights of the successful day over dinner.
Retired transport operator and former Albury
Mayor, Arch McLeish, was a fascinating guest speaker.
Early on Sunday morning the trucks were displayed for the public at Albury Racing
Club while drivers enjoyed breakfast and presentations.
Deals On Wheels found Ian Castles climbing back into his Kenworth, ready to cart his 1931 Chev and 1948 KB11 International recovery vehicle back to Five Ways.
“Everybody just had a magnificent time,” he says, summing up the weekend. He was pleased to see “wives and children and grandchildren” at the family event. “All credit goes to the organisers because it takes a lot of work to put it all together.”
Bruce Gunter and his father Geoff travelled in their restored 1957 Commer Knocker. It was their idea to hold the first Haulin’ the Hume from Sydney to Yass in 2011. This was the inspiration behind the first Crawlin’ the Hume in 2012.
Bruce and his dedicated committee have begun planning the fourth Haulin’ the Hume which will be held in NSW on April 1 and 2, 2017.
And another Crawlin’ the Hume is planned for Victoria in 2018. Details of both runs will be posted in Owner//Driver’s events diary as they become available.
Above: Brian Hodge’s B Model Mack carrying a GMC through Chiltern.
1. Graham Wright won many admirers when he took his International AB 180 with a 1965 McGrath trailer on its first run since its restoration was completed. 2. Trevor Davis with his restored 1927 International SL-34.
3. Brian Smith drove his 1923 Ford TT all the way from Campbellfield to Albury. 4. David Daws’ 1923 Mack AC
behind his 1961 Mack B61. 4
5. Rob French travelled to Albury with Darrell Killick in Darrell’s 1969 W Model Kenworth which pulled the trailer borrowed from Haulin’ the Hume.
6. Trevor Ellwood and his
7. Geoff and Bruce Gunter.
The father and son instigated Haulin’ the Hume which inspired Crawlin’ the Hume.
8. George Goold of Bribie Island and Denis Robertson of Sydney travelled together in George’s K Series Kenworth which carried two of his wellknown Diamond T 630s. 7