Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.Bruce Cropley’s life as a truckie began in 1961 when he bought his first truck, a J56 Bedford, to cart milk. In those days there were no tankers, just milk cans. They would pick up from the dairy farms and deliver to the Drouin Butter Factory. During this time Bruce owned 4 trucks and had two drivers working for him. The butter factory introduced milk tankers in 1965.
Bruce knew this was happening in 1964 so decided to go long distance and bought a Leyland Comet and carted general and white goods Melbourne to Adelaide and wool bales for Hartridges. His run changed and the true meaning of long distance trucking became clear. He bought a KHT Bedford with a Leyland motor going from Adelaide to Mt Tom Price in WA. Mt Tom Price was a new mining town so he carted everything from general freight to mining equipment. The road over the Nullarbor was dirt and very corrugated and the round trip took about 2 weeks. During this time Bruce had an accident where the truck slid in the mud and hit a tree writing the truck off.
This meant time without work so in 1967 he started working for Len Kittle in Tennant Creek driving a 7l1 R-model Mack carting general freight and fuel. In those days the rail line went from Darwin to Larrimah so the fuel was picked up at Larrimah and transported to Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. Kittle Bros purchased the first Atkinson known as the "Big A" to do the Darwin run. It was the most powerful truck in Australia for its time with a body and 3 trailers all with tankers and a gross weight of 100T.
When Kittles sold out to Co-Ord organisation in l974, Bruce was the yard manager and truck driver until the depot closed in 1976. He then moved to Alice Springs doing general freight for 4 years. In 1981 he bought an ACCO Inter agitator with Readymix where the deliveries ranged from local work to a 500km radius like Uluru and the Granites Gold Mine near the WA border. During this time he also owned an International 12T with a bogie drive which was nicknamed the Chocolate Frog doing small local tipper work.
After selling the agitator he worked for Roche Bros at Moline Gold Mine and at the Granites driving a B0T dump truck. He also worked at White Range gold mine driving an excavator. After finishing with them he worked for Rick Morley driving his Mack Superliner tipper taking sand from the creek doing local deliveries for 2 years.
In 1996 Bruce left Alice Springs and moved to Brisbane where he bought a DAF and sub-contracted for Bayleys Transport taking steel and containers off the wharf. Once a fortnight he would do a beer (kegs and cartons) and general freight run to Bell, Jondaryan and surrounding areas. When the Mack died in 2008 Darryl Dickensen offered him a job driving a new Sterling where he worked until his retirement.
Bruce retired on the 4th February 2010, aged 70 and his plans to stay young are to continue ballroom dancing and to travel around and discover what the towns he has always driven through have to offer.