Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005.
Richard Whitehead migrated to Australia on his own as a six-quid migrant when he was sixteen years old. He worked as a drover for two years but he really wanted to drive roadtrains. He moved to Alice Springs and took a job unloading bagged copper ore from the Co-ord roadtrains for sending “south” on the rail.
He then got a co-driver’s job with Windy Allwright driving an AEC Matador with general freight to Larrimah and later he drove for Ted Stiles of Outback Transport in a mighty B-model Mack servicing Alice, Mt. Isa and the Kimberleys in W.A.
He also did a stint with United Uranium hauling from El-Sharnana to the Moline treatment plant. His next move was to drive the cattle roadtrains for Vesteys hauling cattle from the roadtrain base at Maryvale to the railhead at Camooweal. Richie drove the Rotinoff called ‘Jackie’. It had all the diver comforts including a sleeping berth; a really big deal in those days. An annoying problem with the Rotinoffs was when operating in overdrive it was likely to throw a tailshaft as it was 12 ft long with no centre bearing. Both the Rotinoffs carried a spare tailshaft on top of the crates every trip they did. Changing them on the side of the road was commonplace.
After that he went to the big smoke of Sydney and got a job with Ansett Road Express driving a Magirus Deutz. Richie then spent the next 20 years with Lance Smith Heavy Haulage in Melbourne driving the first W-model Kenworth imported by Ed Cameron. Richie became a director of the company and it continued to grow. Richie tried retirement but it drove him crazy. He now drives for Bunker Freightliner.
He does two or three changeovers every week to Nhill and Tarcutta, driving the very best of equipment.
These days Richie drives trucks because he enjoys them, not because he has to. He is one of this country’s real highway heroes.