Bunny Brown has built the first shed at the Tarcutta Transport & Farming Museum and has formed a committee to help him complete the project. Tamara Whitsed travels to Tarcutta
Completion of a five-bay shed at Tarcutta is evidence the Tarcutta Transport & Farming Museum is no longer just a pipe dream.
Bunny and Diana Brown invested $50,000 of their own money to construct the shed at the New South Wales village which is a popular changeover destination on the Hume Highway.
The Browns plan to display several historic trucks in the new shed, including the Western Star Bunny has been driving since 1987.
Four International ACCOs were already assembled at the site when Deals On Wheels visited Tarcutta in July. One is perched on top of a container at the entrance.
A 1948 Ford, 1934 Chev and Thames Trader are visible from the road. Bunny is collecting parts to restore the Ford and Chev.
Construction of a fence has commenced. The front gate is flanked by two exhaust stacks.
Bunny, 73, drove log trucks in the late 1950s before working for CJ Dean of Adelong. He was an owner-driver for over 45 years and operated 11 trucks in the mid-1980s.
He was a member of the Australian Road Transport Heritage Centre (ARTHC) committee which was formed in 2008 to build a truck museum at Tarcutta. But Bunny parted with the group when ARTHC decided to relocate the proposed truck museum to Gundagai.
Bunny continued negotiations with Wagga Wagga City Council and convinced it to lease the 15 hectares earmarked for the Tarcutta museum to the Australian Long Distance Owner and Driver Association (ALDODA). Bunny is ALDODA’s national president.
“It’s been a battle on my own,” says Bunny who is pleased Doug and Pam McMillan, Denis Robertson and George Goold recently agreed to form a committee with him to advance the project. Tarcutta Transport & Farming Museum was incorporated in June.
“They’re all good people. They’re in the industry. They know what they’re doing,” Bunny says.
“I wouldn’t get a better committee. I’ve known
I wouldn’t get a better committee. I’ve known them all an awful long time and the industry knows them.
them all an awful long time and the industry knows them. It’ll go ahead real big now, with these people on board.”
Doug, Pam and Denis are also members of the committee responsible for the Australian Truck Drivers’ Memorial which is located at Tarcutta.
Bunny says the first stage of the museum will possibly open later this year. While it will initially be staffed by volunteers, he hopes to eventually employ several full-time workers.
“It’s going to bring tourists and people into the town. There’s not much here now.”
It is unlikely the new committee will proceed with the $3.9 million blue-print which was abandoned by the ARTHC. The museum will instead be constructed in smaller stages. Bunny says several people have expressed interest in building sheds at the site, similar to the one he has built, to preserve their private collections and display them to the public.
“We’ve got a heap of trucks to bring in,”
Bunny says. He has about 30 trucks, mostly Internationals, at his Adelong home.
Doug and Pam McMillan bought their first truck in 1974. D&P Haulage ran eight trucks in the mid1990s and now runs a hotshot operation with a single truck.
Doug was on the board of the Australian
Trucking Association (ATA) and Transport Industry Superannuation Fund (TIS) for over 20 years but relinquished both positions recently.
Pam is Chair of Transport Women Australia and was Australian Transport Woman of the Year in 1999.
When the committee meets it will consider the possibility of opening the museum on the last weekend of October 2016 to coincide with the annual Australian Truck Drivers’ Memorial service.
“I applaud Bunny for persevering because it’s a great idea,” says Doug who believes Tarcutta has struggled since it was bypassed from the Hume Highway in 2011.
“If Tarcutta wants to survive, and we can help it do that with the museum, then they should get behind it.”
Tarcutta has a population of only 225 people. This will make it difficult to find local volunteers. But the committee will consider establishing a system similar to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs, where grey-nomads can stay at free caravan sites if they volunteer.
Denis Robertson’s trucking career began in 1972 when he bought a 1970 6 Series Dodge to cart meat between Sydney and Melbourne. Today Roadmaster continues under the leadership of his son Geoff.
Denis is a Past Chair of the ATA. He also served as President of the Long Distance Road Transport Association (LDRTA) and was instrumental in establishing NatRoad.
He says Tarcutta is the ideal location for a truck museum because it is half-way between Sydney and Melbourne, and because it is home to the Australian Truck Drivers’ Memorial.
Denis says Wagga Wagga City Council has been supportive. “Bunny’s the one that’s got to take all the credit. We’re just there to help if we can.”
George Goold has had a soft spot for Tarcutta since 1956 when the Hume Highway became impassable between Tarcutta and Little Billabong. He was among hundreds of truckies stranded at Tarcutta while they waited for the road to be repaired. “The CWA opened the hall up and they fed all of us and they didn’t charge us,” George recalls.
He is opposed to a truck museum being built in Gundagai because truck drivers didn’t like stopping there back when notorious ‘Taipan’ Tom Cabban was a motorbike cop. “He’d pinch you for anything, so we got out of Gundagai as quick as we could and we would go to Tarcutta.”
George began driving trucks in 1950. From
1953 he drove interstate for Harvey-Bilson, Transcontinental Transport, Alan Hancock, and HR Hanel. He was also an owner-driver and a Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) official.
Now he runs a taxi business at Bribie Island, Queensland.
George plans to travel to Tarcutta in October and says he will leave a restored 1954 Diamond T 531 at the museum.
Anyone wishing to assist the committee, especially by donating funds or exhibits, is invited to phone Bunny on 0438 072 494 or Doug on 0407 835 115.
Above: Bunny Brown with the 1987 Western Star he plans to display at the museum. It has over 5.5million km on the clock.
1. Previously owned by Alf Wilson of the Upper Murray, this International AB130 has been restored. It is located at the Browns’ home but they want to display it at the Tarcutta museum.
2. An International ACCO once used by livestock carriers A & B Dean of Adelong now sits on top of a container at the museum.
3. Pam and Doug McMillan at D&P Haulage in Albury. Pam is chair of Transport Women Australia, while Doug brings a wealth of industry experience to the Tarcutta Transport & Farming Museum.
4. Bunny hopes to restore the 1948 Ford and 1934 Chev which are at the museum. 5. This International ACCO was once owned by CJ Dean of Adelong and is now at the Tarcutta museum site. 5
6. George Goold (left) and Denis Robertson have long histories in road transport and want to see trucking history preserved at Tarcutta.
7. Bunny and Diana Brown at their Adelong home where they have a collection of over 30 trucks they hope to move to the museum.
8. An International ACCO at
9. Bunny’s rare twin-cab International AA150 at Adelong. 89