ELLIS, Colin

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.

Colin Roy Ellis (Drifter) was born in South Melbourne on 26.2.1944. At 15 he obtained work with Fleetways Transport in general yard and workshop duties, forklift driving and shuffling trucks around. After 6 months he was put in his first truck, a Kew Fargo Tipper, and a few months later into a Maple Leaf Chevrolet 6 tonne tray truck picking up and delivering to the wharves and Melbourne suburbs.

At 19 he got a job with Rusty Jennings driving a J-model Bedford carrying steel and pre-fab steel to building sites throughout Victoria. A few years later he moved his family to Mildura to work with W. Young Transport taking hides and empty bottles to Adelaide and returning with cement and building materials. He worked for Joe Carbone on the market run from Mildura to Melbourne before returning to Melbourne to work for Clarke Mobile Cranes carrying and marrying up jib sections to cranes on building sites.

Later he worked for Mervyn Ziebell, and soon became foreman. Mervyn then bought a fleet of 20 yard tippers powered by 555 Cummins. After far too many breakdowns Merv started going downhill so one of his subbies offered Colin a job driving his second truck, an open top Mazda Jumbo van, carting plastic pot planters to Brisbane and towing caravans for delivery on route. It was while doing this job that he had his first hair-raising experience with Dorrigo mountain. Being unfamiliar with this road he dropped off 1 caravan and picked up a tri-axle caravan at Armidale for delivery at Coffs Harbor. Travelling along through heavy fog it seemed the road had disappeared. Unable to stop or turn around, his prayers to the guardians of the highway must have been answered for, as he crossed Guy Fawkes Creek, he found himself not too far from his point of delivery.

After a couple of short jobs he went to work for WE & K Osborne driving a 1418 Mercedes Benz. Colin next worked for John George Transport staying for 16 years carrying freight from Melbourne to Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide, Brisbane and North Queensland. He started in a cab-over Kenworth powered by an 8V71 GM, then another Kenworth with a 350 Cummins and later a big cab Kenworth powered by a 400 Cummins which he drove for 8 years. 

After so much time on the road he obtained a job with Fleet Express carting logs from Bombala, Bondo and other pine plantations throughout NSW and Victoria on a 12 hour rotating shift. Owing to very serious health problems he was reluctantly obliged to retire from not only the transport industry but from the workforce in general. He still lives in Howlong and exists on a disability pension but after 41 years in the industry he still reminisces about his mates and the good and the bad times they had on the road.