FRENCH, Denton

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2000.

Frenchie, as he was known, was a unique character, once met never forgotten.  He was a true blue Aussie character who became a bit of a legend in his own time.

He was a man who showed great ability to cope with the adversity of the breakdowns and hardships associated with a lifetime in road transport, much of it spent in the far north and the outback of central Australia.  Denton started about the late 50s, early 60s with Pearce Earthmovers of Port Augusta as a plant operator driving tip trucks and earthmoving equipment.

This was followed by a period as a linesman with the Electrical Trust of S.A. but the call of the big trucks proved too strong and in the mid 1960s Denton started with Les Harvey Transport of Port Augusta on a B-model Mack doing rig shifts and other outback work.  He later drove a Peterbilt for Northern Transport before operating his own freight business between Adelaide and Alice Springs.

In those days the 'South Road' was notorious for being impassable in wet weather and Alice Springs people were used to having their supplies interrupted by the weatherman.  However, that most important of all freight items, the beer for Underdown's Alice Springs hotel was entrusted to Denton French, because they all knew the beer truck had to get through.

After his own trucking business finished he worked for Don Burgess at the Kulgera Hotel near the Territory border.  He then worked for Miners Transport in Coober Pedy for twenty-one years and never took a week off until his untimely death.  He was their top gun operator who they always called upon to do their most difficult tasks such as moving opal drill rigs etc.  Denton became widely known and respected amongst the station people of the far north of South Australia for whom he carted wool.  Denton was a Mack truck fanatic.  If it wasn't a Mack it wasn't a truck and that's all there was to it.  If you happened upon him on the Old South Road you'd find him dressed in a Mack vest with Mack belt and the curtains in his cab and the cushions on his seat all made with material featuring the Mack dog.

For Denton French it was a colourful life.  When the load was heavy and the going was hard, Denton was at his best.  He really and truly will be missed, but when there's a campfire going and the truckies tell their tall stories you can bet that 'Frenchie' gets a mention.  He really was as tough as the Macks he loved.