Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005Greg Oakley grew up in McLaren Vale in South Australia. After a short time working for the PMG as a technician he moved back to help his parents. He also did casual work around the area including some truck driving for McLaren Vale Transport.
At 19 years of age he travelled to the Northern Territory with a friend and decided he’d like to build an outback roadhouse. At 22 he moved to the Territory to work on the Beef Road Construction Program. During the wet season he’d return to McLaren Vale to work driving buses on the south-coast for Briscoe’s Motor Service.
In 1968 Greg started with Ansett Pioneer driving express coaches to Melbourne, Broken Hill and Perth. In August 1969 he flew to Alice Springs to start operating the Adelaide to Alice Springs service and later he did long distance tours to Western Australia, Alice Springs, Darwin and the Flinders Rangers. Many of his tours were on outback dirt roads. There were no real facilities between Coober Pedy and Kulgera. Greg saw the opportunity to realise his dream. The Giles family allowed him to establish a facility on their property and after five years of red tape, Greg was finally granted approval to start operating a roadhouse seven kms east of old Marla Bore. The Marla Bore Trading Company was formed and Greg left Ansett Pioneer in October 1978. Five Atco transportable huts and three fuel tanks were dropped there and on Chirstmas Eve 1978 the first tank of fuel was sold.
As well as the tourist trade, roadtrains of cattle form the Northern Territory used to travel down to Manguri and back using Marla as a fuel and food stop. Greg slept in the corner of the dining room and it was not unusual for a driver to arrive in the early hours and cook his own meal while Greg fuelled the truck. Greg would then climb back into bed telling the driver to switch out the lights and lock the door behind him when he’d finished. Marla was literally developed around the roadside facility. Greg sold the business in 1996 and returned due to ill health. Marla today is a pleasant and popular resting and refuelling stop.