Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens has written a book about his role in the Razorback Blockade of 1979. He tells Tamara Whitsed about the accusations, condemnation and a missing manuscript
Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens has written a book about his role in the Razorback Blockade of 1979
Razorback rebel, Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens, has copped a lot of abuse since he instigated the Razorback Blockade in April 1979.
He hopes his recently self-published book, Razorback – the Real Story, will set a few things straight.
“Hopefully it stops a lot of the bullshit and gossip that went on after,” Ted says. “People believed it was done for ulterior motives. It wasn’t.”
We are sitting at Ted’s kitchen table at his home in Diggers Rest, Victoria.
The 38 years since Razorback have left their mark on Ted’s health. He suffered a stroke in 2013, glaucoma is affecting his eyesight, and he is undergoing tests to explain recent weight loss.
But in many ways Ted is still the tough-talking truckie he was back in 1979 when he and his mates parked their trucks across the Hume Highway at the top of Razorback Mountain.
Today the 73-year-old is adamant he has no regrets about the blockade. If he had his time over, he would do it again “in a heartbeat”.
“[We were] sick of getting locked up for road tax; sick of being persecuted on the highway.”
He likens the Razorback Blockade to a betterknown Australian rebellion.
“The only difference between Eureka Stockade and what happened back then at Razorback was that at Eureka Stockade they were shooting each other. Well we weren’t shooting each other. But it was a similar sort of protest. Eureka stockade
I didn’t know what I was doing.
was against unjust taxes, and that’s what our protest was about.”
But history hasn’t honoured the major players at Razorback in the same way it remembers the heroes of Eureka Stockade.
“The things people said about me and how this all came about – there are so many lies, innuendo, condemnation. So I thought I’d put it in print. They can believe it or they can choose to disbelieve it. Whatever they like. But there’s not one word of lies in there,” he says.
Ted has been trying to publish his book for almost 38 years. He began writing the book soon after the blockade and sent the only copy to a publisher. He says they were initially interested in the book but changed their mind. When Ted asked them to return the manuscript they told him it had disappeared.
Years later (he thinks the late 1980s or early 1990s) a movie studio gave Ted a token payment of $1– a symbolic first payment for the movie rights to his story. The movie was never made, but the interest inspired him to buy a typewriter, learn to type, and rewrite the manuscript.
In hard times – like when his first marriage ended and when he lost his business – Ted dreamed the book might earn money for his family. As the years passed and his health deteriorated, the idea of profiting from the book became less important. He just wanted it published so he could tell his side of the story.
Earlier this year his friends Spencer and Gloria Watling and Phil Robinson stepped in to help
Ted self-publish the book. Spencer was another Razorback rebel, and Phil is an old trucking mate. They spread the word on Facebook and pre-sold enough books to warrant the first run of 250 copies.
These have all been sold and another 1000 books have been published. The feedback has been “very positive”, Ted says.
Razorback – the Real Story describes the frustration which led Ted, Spencer, Colin Bird, Barry Grimson and Jack Hibburt to block the highway at Razorback Mountain in 1979.
Ted writes in the book: “When all was said and done, what could they do to us? Lock us up? We risked that every night we spent on the highway.”
In the days before the internet and mobile phones, the blockade organisers used CB radios to spread their message from the top of Razorback. They relied on newspapers and radio stations for news about the blockades set up by other frustrated truckies at strategic locations throughout Australia. Thousands of drivers had parked their trucks in solidarity. Others just wanted to get home, but the protestors wouldn’t let their trucks through the blockades.
At a meeting on the second day, Ted nominated Barry Grimson to be spokesperson. Barry declined, and Ted ended up as the mouthpiece of the rebellion.
“Here I am, a busted-arse truck driver with an eighth-grade education, speaking to premiers and union leaders. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea. And you’ll read that in the book, warts and all,” he recalls.
The book is set on the mountain and at several of the other blockades in New South Wales that Ted visited by car and helicopter during the protest. He also takes the reader into the heated negotiations with politicians, large transport companies and transport associations, including the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU).
“It was just one day that lasted nine days to me,” he tells Deals on Wheels. “I didn’t get any sleep or anything. I was beamed up to the eyeballs half the time. It was pretty difficult.”
The truckies had support from radio announcer John Laws, entrepreneur Dick Smith, and lawyers David Galbally and Frank Galbally. Frank was considered Australia’s greatest criminal lawyer at the time.
They had enemies too. Chief among them was NSW Premier Neville Wran.
There were times when the atmosphere at
We were far better off after Razorback
Above: Ted ‘Greendog’ Stevens: instigator of the 1979 Razorback Blockade
Above: (From left) Razorback delegates Carl Goodfellow, Jack Hibburt, Ted Stevens,
Col Bird, Barry Grimson and Spencer Watling in April 1979, celebrating the end of the blockade
1. Ted Stevens tells the story of the 1979 blockade in Razorback – the Real Story
2. Plaques at Razorback Mountain commemorate the 1979
3. Today there is a truck rest at Razorback Mountain