RIVERINA RICE RUN­NER

Re­tired truckie Peter Clark spent 22 years mov­ing rice in the Riverina and is proud about his in­duc­tion into the Na­tional Road Trans­port Hall of Fame. Ta­mara Whitsed vis­its him in De­niliquin

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

PETER CLARK of De­niliquin, New South Wales, spent many hours sleep­ing on un­com­fort­able truck seats dur­ing the first three decades of his long truck­ing ca­reer. He says a Com­mer was the most un­com­fort­able.

It wasn’t un­til the late 1980s that he slept in a sleeper cab. It was like sleep­ing in a five-star ho­tel be­cause the truck was an op­u­lent 1988 Bi­cen­ten­nial Mack Su­per-Liner II. The ‘Kings­ford Smith’ had a velour in­te­rior and was decked out with com­mem­o­ra­tive com­forts in­clud­ing bed­ding and tow­els.

“You could stand up in­side it and all that sort of thing,” Peter says. “It was pretty good to camp in.”

The Kings­ford Smith was owned by Grant Haynes, who em­ployed Peter to cart milk from De­niliquin to Syd­ney.

With a 500hp Mack E9 V8, the Su­per-Liner was more pow­er­ful than any­thing Peter had driven at that stage of his ca­reer. But he reck­ons there was some­thing wrong with the Mack’s ex­haust. “The Bi­cen­ten­nial was too noisy. If I did Can­berra Fri­day night and Syd­ney Satur­day night, I could still hear it in my ears on Wed­nes­day. Most V8 Macks have got a real ‘pop, pop, pop’, but this thing just used to scrowl.”

He would rather drive a Deutz any day, be­cause the Deutz he drove for Lan­di­nis of Wakool, near De­niliquin, “rode like a car”.

Peter drove many brands of trucks dur­ing his long ca­reer, in­clud­ing Bed­ford, Com­mer, Mercedes-Benz, Sca­nia, Western Star, Diamond T and Ken­worth.

His favourite was a 1975 Ken­worth SAR he drove for Rice­grow­ers Co-op­er­a­tive Mills. He likes Ken­worths be­cause “they’re put to­gether well”.

Look­ing back, he says im­proved brak­ing is the best ad­vance­ment he has wit­nessed since 1954. “The brakes on the English trucks I drove were a night­mare.” He loves mod­ern power steer­ing and is grate­ful for the im­proved de­sign and com­fort of truck seats.

COM­MER

Peter’s truck­ing ca­reer be­gan in the mid-1950s when he spent about six months cart­ing live­stock and grain in an old petrol motor Com­mer for John Wil­son of Tul­lakool, NSW.

In 1956 he be­gan driv­ing a Bed­ford for Lan­di­nis of Wakool. He carted cat­tle and sheep as far as Mel­bourne. “Then we’d come home and take the stock crates off, and wash the floor, put a load of wool on and take that to the wool stores in Mel­bourne.”

Later, he moved to Dar­ling­ton Point near Grif­fith to cart tim­ber to Mel­bourne for Fitz­patricks. In about 1964 the Clarks moved to Wakool and Peter again carted stock for Lan­di­nis.

In the early years of their mar­riage,

Mary en­joyed trav­el­ling with Peter in the Deutz and Com­mer. Their daugh­ter Tracy trav­elled with them in a bassinet.

Mary re­mem­bers the ex­cite­ment of hear­ing the Deutz ap­proach­ing their Wakool home. Their dog Patty was al­ways the first to hear it. Then lit­tle Tracy would recog­nise the sound and say, “Here’s daddy in his Deutz, mum.”

Peter was work­ing on a farm at Cald­well, NSW, when sec­ond daugh­ter, Jodie, was born.

They re­turned to De­niliquin when Peter found work with Lum­bars. Peter carted grain to Mel­bourne, re­turn­ing to De­niliquin with gen­eral freight.

In 1975, Peter be­gan work­ing with Rice­grow­ers. For 22 years he carted rice to De­niliquin from Fin­ley, Jer­ilderie, Moulamein, Coleam­bally and Eulo in a ro­bust bulk tanker cus­tom made by Epex.

He took on a sec­ond job in the late 1980s. Af­ter cart­ing rice all week, he spent the week­end in Grant Haynes’ fa­mous Bi­cen­ten­nial Mack Su­per­Liner, pulling a milk tanker from De­niliquin to Syd­ney.

Rice­grow­ers made Peter re­dun­dant in about 1997 and he spent the last years of his ca­reer cart­ing fuel for Lum­bars in a Western Star.

Through­out his long ca­reer, Peter kept an ex­cel­lent driv­ing record and is proud he never at­tracted any de­merit points. “I used to wear my mir­rors out,” he says, ex­plain­ing his decades of safe driv­ing.

Peter re­tired 15 years ago and now en­joys mak­ing wrought iron seats and trav­el­ling to truck shows. The De­niliquin Truck Show is one of his favourites.

When Owner//Driver vis­ited Peter in Au­gust, he was cel­e­brat­ing news that his nom­i­na­tion for in­duc­tion into the Na­tional Road Trans­port Hall of Fame at Alice Springs had been suc­cess­ful. He was nom­i­nated by his friend Ian Holschier.

Peter’s health pre­vented him trav­el­ling to Alice Springs for the in­duc­tion. He doesn’t blame his back pain on the years he spent shov­el­ling gravel on and off trucks, lump­ing bags of wheat or cut­ting posts with an axe. He be­lieves the pain is from “40-odd years” sit­ting in the driver’s seat with a wal­let in his back pocket.

Look­ing back, Peter says he en­joyed ev­ery mo­ment of truck­ing. “I loved it. There wasn't a day I didn't want to go to work.”

was too noisy.” “The Bi­cen­ten­nial

Peter spent 22 years pulling this bulk tanker for Rice­grow­ers Co-op­er­a­tive Mills. The tanker was cus­tom made by Epex

Re­tired truckie Peter Clark, 81, was suc­cess­fully nom­i­nated for the Shell Rim­ula Wall of Fame at Alice Springs

Peter drove this Deutz in the early 1960s

Peter’s last job was cart­ing fuel in this Western Star for Lum­bars A load of tim­ber on Fitz­patrick’s In­ter­na­tional R190 in the early 1960s

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