STRUIKSMA, Klaas

Klaas Struiksma Loves work.

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


Spook, as he prefers to be called, was born in Holland in 1934 and completed a mechanical apprenticeship at a Citroen Dealership.  He came to Australia at 22 years of age and soon had a job at Urban Motors Holden in Melbourne.  Later he moved to Townsville and took a job with Arthur Battle as a mechanic on the Townsville to Malanda milk-run (then the longest mild fun in the world) for two years before deciding he needed a change.

He drove a while for Vaughan Transport in Victoria and Wright Brothers Cattle Carters in Mt. Isa.  He found he like the red dust and rugged lifestyle.

He arrive in Alice Springs in 1970 and immediately started working for Fleet Owners carting freight from the railhead to WA, QLD or Territory mines, to cattle stations, Kununurra, Ord River and Gunpowder mins.  During the 72-73 season he worked with Buntine Roadways which was part of a group of truck companies known as Co-ord Transport based in Alice Springs.  The Co-op (formerly the Territory Transport Association) was formed by local operators in an attempt to prevent larger southern transport companies vying for rail contracts.

For the next 29 years Spook drove for Co-ord driving fuel tankers and freight up and down the centre and sometimes across to WA and QLD.  When 1999 came, Spook, at the retiring age of 65, asked his employer if he could do one more year.  He was thrilled the answer was yes.  In June of 1999 he went up the Stuart Highway driving for Co-ord, came back down the highway, driving the same truck but working for Ascot Haulage.  Co-ord Transport was no more; its assets and contracts absorbed by the take-over.  It was a sad day for many to see the Territory’s oldest surviving transport business disappear.  For the past five years Spook worked as a relief driver for a few local owner-drivers.  In 2007 Spook has retired from driving roadtrains but still potters with trucks, earthmovers and general machinery.

Most times Spooks does not even earn a wage, he just works for the love of it because he can’t stay off the road.  He says this keeps him young and, at age 75 in 2009, he is still going strong as ever.