DRAPE, Darby

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2004.

Having a look at Darby’s trucking career gives meaning to the terms ‘general carrier.’ His career as an interstate truck driver first began in 1951 when  he started driving an R180 International for EC Kerr and Stan Daly in Williamstown.

Later he progressed to the R190 International and then, that legend of the highways, the 1418 Mercedes Benz. The loads he carried were mostly general goods.

Darby mainly worked on the contract the company had with Nestlès carting condensed milk from Maffra and Nescafe from Dennington, both in Vic, and Milo from Smithtown in N.S.W. to various distributors. In those days this type of produce was loaded onto trucks loose and then stacked onto pallets in Sydney and Brisbane. They also worked carrying Dunlop batteries from Melbourne to Sydney. These were all hand-loaded and unloaded. Other goods carried were from Stillwells Engineering in Maidstone and sometimes apples from Sommerville on the Mornington Peninsula.

Towards the end of the 1950s he went to work for Don Opperman Transport in Geelong Road, Brooklyn driving an R190 and later a twin-head lighter 630 Diamond T. They had a contract to carry Monsanto chemicals from Melbourne to Sydney and Sisalcraft back from Sydney to Melbourne. All this adds up to a lot of hard miles especially when, once again, this was all hand-loaded and tarped by Darby as the driver. There was no such thing as forklifts and cranes in those days, at least for use by truck drivers. The Diamond T Darby drove had twin headlights and a 471 GM diesel. It has been specially built for Don Opperman and attracted a lot of attention on the road. It became a well known truck on the road and is still remembered with much fondness today by the truck drivers of the era.

After Darby came off the interstate runs, he still worked for thirteen years for Alan Gangelhoff at the Footscray fruit and vegetable market until he retired in 1995. He made a lot of friends over the years and has kept in touch with most of them through regular truck reunions in Victoria which he helps organise.