IRVINE, Sam

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005.

Born in January, 1890 at Baucaut, South Australia, Sam Irvine worked on Coonamoon Station as a young man. While there, he met and married Mary Farrell and the couple had four children: Margaret, Jean, Donald and Kathleen. In 1919 the family moved to Adelaide.

In 1920, Sam and his Reo truck acquired the mail contract from Kingoonya to Coober Pedy, pioneering the motorized mail run. In conjunction with this contract, Sam carted freight to Coober Pedy from Kingoonya and William Creek. With no roads, Sam would drag a log or steel bar behind his truck to form some sort of a track.

From 1925 to 1929, Sam held the mail contracts that ran from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, as well as the contract from Alice Springs to Altunga until 1932. Prior to this time, the mail had been transported by camel teams. In 1929, using his Federal truck, Sam entered into the Alice Springs to Tennant Creek mail contract, which was later extended to Newcastle Waters and Birdum. While delivering mail, Sam also carried passengers, freight and at times his truck was used as an ambulance for the sick, or for those affected by road traffic accidents.

In the 1930s, Sam  worked as the acting manager at Granite Downs, SA,  before moving back to the Northern Territory carrying general freight all over the outback in his Federal truck. In 1940, Sam got a job with the NT Works Department as a grader driver constructing an all weather road from Alice Springs to Birdum. Later still, Sam Irvine purchased his own  Caterpillar grader after tendering for and  winning a contract with the same department, grading hundreds of miles of roads throughout Central Australia. Some of these tracks today form part of the modern Stuart Highway.

In the mid-1950s, Sam retired to Alice Springs, and in 1959 suffered a stroke and passed away on the 12th of November, 1959.