Vintage convoy tackles the old Hume
THE AUSTRALIAN Road Transport Heritage Centre (ARTHC) held its annual truck show, fundraising dinner and Sylvia’s Gap Road run on June 10 and 11, attracting a wide range of vehicles to Gundagai, New South Wales.
The activities began with a truck show at the Gundagai Show Grounds. The Prince Alfred Bridge, which was part of the Hume Highway until 1976, provided an historic backdrop.
Prizes were awarded to Leigh and Kerry Rankin of Katunga, Victoria, for their 1977 White Road Boss, and the Garner family of Tumut for their restored 1947 International KB7.
The weekend was an opportunity for drivers of all ages to catch up with old highway mates and to rub shoulders with pioneering truck drivers like 90-year- old Rex Shiel of Kilsyth, Victoria. Rex drove for companies such as Panuccis, Brambles and Cootes. He travelled nine million kilometres during his career which spanned six decades.
During the Sylvia’s Gap Road Run, Rex was a passenger in a 1990 T650 that he had driven for Cootes Transport in the 1990s.
Today, Churchill Transport owns the T650. John Scott, 75, drove the T650 on the run. He is a former Churchill employee and has known Rex since the 1950s. Churchill Transport’s 1990 Kenworth T650 shines at the Gundagai truck show
John began driving trucks in 1962 and spent most of his career carting refrigerated freight.
“I went over Sylvia’s a lot when I first started to drive,” he says.
The T650 led a convoy of about 48 trucks which began at the Gundagai Show Grounds and followed old and new sections of the Hume Highway through Tumblong to Sylvia’s Gap Road.
The section of road which includes Sylvia’s Cutting and Hannah’s Pinch was part of the Hume Highway from 1940 to 1983. This is now private property but the owners opened their gates for the event.
The road run reminded John of the perils of this section of the old Hume Highway.
“I can’t believe that the road was so small, so narrow, and so windy and steep. And the trucks we had were only 120 or 130hp.”
Many of the trucks taking part had been restored. Others were modern trucks still working the highways. Several trucks carried older vehicles
“The road was so small, so narrow, and so windy and steep”
in various stages of restoration on their trays or trailers.
Motorbikes, utes, cars and ex-military vehicles followed the trucks on the run.
John is an active supporter of the ARTHC. He takes his turn on the museum roster and had many roles during the fundraising weekend. He sold raffle tickets and helped other volunteers cook the Sunday morning breakfast.
John describes the enthusiastic volunteers as ‘welcoming’ and urges people of all ages to join the ARTHC to help build a permanent transport museum on the Hume Highway.
MEMORIES OF RAZORBACK
Barry Grimson was guest speaker at a fundraising dinner on Saturday night where a lively auction raised $9500 for the proposed new museum. He was one of five instigators of the 1979 Razorback Blockade but has rarely spoken publicly about the protest.
“We abolished road tax; we went from 90km/ h to 100. The other thing was we went from 36 tonne to 39 tonne,” Barry told the 180 people who attended the dinner.
“So if there were any detractors I’ve always said to them, ‘Well, why didn’t you keep paying road tax? Why didn’t you keep doing 90km/ h and why didn’t you keep carting 36 tonne?’”
He finished with a message for the new generation of truck drivers: “You’ve got to fight for it because it’s just a fantastic industry, road transport.”
The Sylvia’s Gap fundraising weekend will be on again next year. Meanwhile, the ARTHC has turned its attention to its February fundraiser – a tractor pull and swap meet.
For details, visit www.arthc.com.au or like the Australian Road Transport Heritage Centre Facebook page.
“You’ve got to fi ght for it because it’s just a fantastic industry”
Scott Menz at the truck show with his 1988 Kenworth T650
Trucks line up near the old Prince Alfred Bridge to begin the Sylvia’s Gap Road Run
Australian Military Equipment Collectors (AMEC) club members with a WWII Bren Gun carrier
Bruce Brown of Glenmore at the Gundagai Truck Show with his 1965 Toyota 6000 DA115. Bruce is 73 and still drives a truck around Sydney
John Rees, Rex Shiel and John Scott travelled Sylvia’s Gap Road in Churchill’s shiny 1990 Kenworth T650
Robert McInerney of Tumut with his truck and jinker
Gordon Garner (right) and his son Malcolm Garner from Tumut with their prize-winning 1947 International KB7 at the Gundagai Truck Show
Greg Stephenson of Canberra with his 1985 Ford LTL
DRT’s 2007 Kenworth T950