Ghosts at Sylvia’s Gap

Ex­press trucks and driv­ers re­trace the old Hume

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TWO GREY GHOST KEN­WORTHS were among about 80 trucks tak­ing part in the 2018 Sylvia’s Gap Truck Run on Sun­day, June 10. This year, the Aus­tralian Road Trans­port Her­itage Cen­tre (ARTHC) chose ‘Ex­press Freight of Yes­ter­year’ as the theme of its an­nual fundrais­ing week­end at Gunda­gai, New South Wales, and en­cour­aged for­mer ex­press freight driv­ers to at­tend. Among those who an­swered the call were Viv Ire­land, 80, Colin South­well, 74, and Ted Scarfe, 78, from the Port Mac­quarie re­gion on the NSW Cen­tral Coast. They were guest speak­ers at the ARTHC’s Sat­ur­day night din­ner, which at­tracted al­most 200 peo­ple. Viv, Colin and Ted all took part in the Sylvia’s Gap Road Run on Sun­day morn­ing.

The event traces a no­to­ri­ous sec­tion of the old Hume High­way near Tum­b­long. Sylvia’s Gap was by­passed in 1983. It is now on pri­vate land and is usu­ally closed to the pub­lic.

Ted drove his own car along Sylvia’s Gap Road. Viv en­joyed the run from the pas­sen­ger seat of Dave Hom­burg’s 1974 Ken­worth K125. And Colin re­lived his high­way days by driv­ing Mark Fitzger­ald’s 1980 W Model, which once carted ex­press freight for TNT. Colin also drove Glen Nind’s ex-TNT 1976 Ken­worth K125 on part of the run.

“It’s the first time I’ve done a changeover at Sylvia’s for 39 years,” Colin says with a grin.

All three veteran truck­ies re­call driv­ing the fa­mous Ken­worth

Grey Ghosts and were thrilled to see three of them at Gunda­gai. Colin drove Grey Ghosts on the Hume for Kwika­sair from 1973 to 1979. Ted owned an ex-Kwika­sair Grey Ghost from 1973 to 1975. And Viv drove Grey Ghosts from Bris­bane to NSW for Comet in the early 1970s.

Grey Ghosts

Sev­eral Aus­tralian com­pa­nies ran slim­line Ken­worths in the 1970s, but the name ‘Grey Ghost’ only ap­plied to the K125s which were pro­duced in Ger­man Rac­ing Sil­ver at Seat­tle, USA, from 1968 to 1971, and Aus­tralian-made K125CRs pro­duced in the same colour in Ken­worth’s Bayswa­ter fac­tory from 1971 un­til mid-1976. They were used by TNT and its Comet, Kwika­sair and Hawthorn di­vi­sions.

Steve Dun­bar and his fam­ily drove two Grey Ghosts down from Pen­rith, NSW, to take part in the truck run. A diesel me­chanic, Steve says he likes the look and sound of the Grey Ghosts. His 1974 Grey Ghost was orig­i­nally a semi but now has a tray and has been painted blue. His 1973 Grey Ghost is still in its orig­i­nal sil­ver colour.

“That’s how it fin­ished work and that’s how it’s go­ing to stay,” says Steve, who doesn’t plan to re­paint it.

Dave Tay­lor’s 1972 Kwika­sair Grey Ghost was on dis­play at the Gunda­gai Show­grounds but it was still un­der restora­tion and didn’t take part in the run.

Another pop­u­lar for­mer ex­press truck was Glen Nind’s 1976 Ken­worth K125, which was owned by TNT un­til the late 1980s. It’s not a Grey Ghost, but was one of about 25 K125s de­liv­ered in TNT’s peaches-and-cream liv­ery.

Glen, from Dig­gers Rest, Vic­to­ria, is a truck driver and for­mer diesel me­chanic. He says his K125 has been a work in progress since late 2013. “A cou­ple of years ago we painted it up just roughly in the old colours,” Glen says. “The en­gine num­ber matches the build sheet. It’s still got the orig­i­nal 15-speed over­drive and the orig­i­nal VS400 Ea­ton diffs with the 5.29 ra­tios. The run­ning gear is as orig­i­nal as it can get.”

Af­ter Glen trav­elled Sylvia’s Gap Road in the K125, he in­vited some other driv­ers to take the wheel. Glen says he is grate­ful for the landown­ers who opened their gates and al­lowed the trucks to travel on the pri­vate road.

Awarded trucks

The ARTHC week­end was held at the Gunda­gai Show­grounds near the town’s fa­mous tim­ber Prince Alfred Bridge. It was foggy when the truck run be­gan at the show­grounds on Sun­day morn­ing but blue skies greeted the trucks, cars,

“It’s the first time I’ve done a changeover at Sylvia’s for 39 years.”

mo­tor­bikes and mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles be­fore they reached Sylvia’s Gap Road near Tum­b­long.

The new­est truck on the run was Al­la­long Tas­ma­nian Searoads’ Ken­worth T610 SAR, which has been on the road since May.

Trucks dat­ing back to the 1940s also trav­elled the old road, in­clud­ing Gor­don Garner’s KB7 In­ter­na­tional. Af­ter the run the rigs lined up on dis­play at the Gunda­gai Show­grounds, while a morn­ing tea and tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion took place at the nearby race­course.

Rob Wool­ley of Man­grove Moun­tain, NSW, won Truck of the Show with his re­stored 1981 Ken­worth K123 which was once owned by Ipec.

Steve Pat­ten of Lee­ton won Best His­toric Truck with his 1990 In­ter­na­tional TranS­tar 4670. The TranS­tar is a trib­ute to Steve’s grand­fa­ther, Bill, who founded the fam­ily busi­ness in 1938.

Event or­gan­is­ers es­ti­mate over $29,000 was grossed over the week­end. The funds will help build a per­ma­nent truck mu­seum to re­place the tem­po­rary mu­seum which opened in 2016.

ARTHC Sec­re­tary Daryl Weston says the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion is grow­ing, and a larger mu­seum is needed be­cause “we’re start­ing to be­come space poor”. He en­cour­ages truck lovers to in­spect the col­lec­tion of ve­hi­cles, pho­tographs and mem­o­ra­bilia at 1 Jack Moses Ave, Gunda­gai.

Visit for in­for­ma­tion about the mu­seum, in­clud­ing open­ing hours.

Be­low: Mark Fitzger­ald’s 1980 W Model once carted ex­press freight for TNT. For­mer Kwika­sair driver Colin South­well drove the W Model on the Sylvia’s Gap Truck Run Be­low left: Colin South­well drove for Kwika­sair in the 1970s. He en­joyed trav­el­ling...

Above: Steve Dun­bar has no plans to paint his sil­ver 1973 Grey Ghost: “That’s how it fin­ished work and that’s how it’s go­ing to stay.”

Above right: Dick Dun­bar of Syd­ney drove a White 4000 on the Sylvia’s Gap Truck Run Mid­dle: Dave Chap­man drove a 1980 Ken­worth Aero­dyne Left: Mark Menz’s Western Star run­ning down the gap Op­po­site top to bot­tom: A 400 Cum­mins pow­ers Colin Price’s...

Above left: Mal­colm Brown’s 1976 Peter­bilt 359 with a 350 Cum­mins

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