GILLELAND, Ray

Ray Gilleland The Perth Express

Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005

Ray Gilleland was born on 28th of October, 1931 and grew up in the Sydney suburb of Ramsgate across Botany Bay from Kurnell, where Captain James Cook landed in 1770 to claim this new land for England.

His formative years were moulded by The Depression and World War Two. When asked what he wanted to do in life, his answer was “to chase the horizon.” The youth of the Forties could sense that a whole new world was opening up.  With dogged determination and some luck to go with it,he was at the forefront of the interstate road transport revolution in Australia.

Ray assisted in the design and building, and then drove, one of the first low-loader car carriers in Australia, delivering new Standard Vanguard cars between Melbourne and Sydney. He then drove the Sydney to Perth overland route in a prime-mover equipped with an early model (and rather primitive by today’s standards) home-made sleeper cabin. The road across the Nullarbor Plain in those days was a sandy track or in parts when it rained, a yellow muddy canal of water.

As the years rolled on Kenworths were introduced to Australia by a Sydney firm for shuttle work between Sydney and Melbourne. It was a non-stop trip with two drivers sharing the two return trips then having two days off. Ray Gilleland formed part of the crew for a time. He then owned various transport companies and was still chasing the horizon overseas in 2000.

The last few years have been spent writing about his exploits and are contained in the book, My Way on the Highway: the life and times of the Nullarbor Kid edited by Col Jackson and published by Publishing Services in Brisbane, 2005.