Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2000.Tom Kruse epitomises the hardships of the bush and the sheer ingenuity that our pioneering truckies had to have to make their livelihoods. Born in Waterloo (SA), Tom started driving for Harry Ding in 1939.
His job was to cart mail and supplies from Yunta to outlying communities. By 1947 he had married and moved to Maree where he bought one of Harry Ding's mail runs along with a hybrid Leyland Badger (fitted with a 1924 Thornycroft rear end and gear box). It was a lifestyle that went on to make Tom a legend.
The 700 mile mail run that Tom took over went right through the dead and isolated heart of Australia's most lifeless country. A normal day's work meant sitting out dust storms, crossing flooded creeks, being bogged to the axles or changing broken springs by the light of the campfire amid millions of mosquitoes.
Each day brought new hazards including countless attempts at trying to climb over continuously moving sandhills. It didn't take Tom Kruse long to become a household name in Australia and he was awarded and MBE in 1954 for his outstanding services to the bush. Tom eventually sold out his mail contracts in 1963 and did a bit of earthmoving before retiring. In 1999 Tom Kruse recreated his famous Birdsville to Adelaide mail run in the original Badger he'd lovingly restored over the previous years with the assistance of many people in SA and NT.
That job completed, the truck is now housed in the National Motor Museum where it sits in monument to the man who got the mail through regardless.
Tom is one of those truly extraordinary Australians whose history should never be forgotten.
They now run three Kenworth B-double combinations around the Melbourne suburbs.