AHERN, Michael

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2009.

Michael (Mick) Francis Ahern was born on 17th September, 1937 and passed away on 16th June, 2008.  Mick loved trucks.  In 1960 he got a job with the Liquid Cartage Company (later owned by Brambles) which operated a fleet of road tankers from a base in Footscray VIC.

He came off the road in 1982 and was later promoted to Victorian Operations Manager.  Years later he returned to driving until his retirement in early 2005.

His first trucks were 1950s Leylands and Scammells earning around twenty pounds a week.  Its maximum speed was 60 kph, was very noisy, and without any heating or cooling.  He went on to drive Kenworths, Volvos and Scanias.  His favourite was the 1975 W925 S2R model Kenworth.  It was very reliable with the performance enhanced by extra horse-power.  Mick transport flammable liquid and liquefied gases such as benzene, butadiene, propane, ethylene, octel and the like, using the main highways to Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide, travelling some 3,630,000 klms without an accident.  This was unique as Brambles was the only company to produce a driver's handbook detailing 350 products registered as 'Dangerous Goods'.

Highways in the early days were very narrow and, in places, dangerous with very few suitable truck parking bays.  CBs were constantly used to notify drivers of hazards.  Mateship and camaraderie was vital and fellow drivers would stop to lend a hand if there was a breakdown or an accident.  Funny things were witnessed such as two old ladies, dressed in their Sunday finery, backsides to the highway, having a wee. There was sadness also when Mick came across fatal accidents, especially with children involved.  In latter years when promoted to "Senior Gas Driver', Mick was responsible for the testing of tankers, hoses and safety equipment.

Mick witnessed many transformations: more efficient truck sizes, improvements to horse-power, gear-boxes and power steering, larger allowable payloads, longer trailers, the introduction of weigh stations on all main routes and the necessity to receive schooling with an examination to receive a ticket authorising the carriage of 'Dangerous Goods'.