HAWTIN, John

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

John Hawtin experienced some of the greatest times of his life as he unknowingly joined the evolution of the trucking industry. Those men were real truckies. Creators of Australian transport history, as we know it; they drove trucks because they wanted to, not because they had to.

Some of the biggest trucking companies started around this time and have been recently taken over by large shareholder firms that now control the monopoly. Fuel was under 60 cents a litre, coke was in glass and milk delivered to your door. Computers were figments of cartoons and trucks were as raw as they could have been; minimal gauges, gears and horsepower. How these guys ever survived the early days will always amaze us.

John would leave Melbourne Friday night to arrive in Sydney by Monday. How things have changed. The highway was a narrow winding road with more bends, twists and pot holes in it that any man could endure. No dual lane concrete highway for your Aerodyne cab truck, to sit on cruise control while you listen to a CD in your suspension seat.

We worry nowadays about the dangers of the highway but in hindsight it was Russian roulette every time they hopped onto the road back in the seventies. No air conditioned trucks, just a tartan esky with cold drinks and sandwiches stuffed down on the passenger floor complete with the matching thermos of coffee that clipped into the esky lid. Only the rattles and whine of the truck’s engine to listen to as you tried to guide it up the narrow highway at 35mph.

John brought normality to the road but must have been insane to stick it out. His family honors him for it. He sacrificed family life to give them one. (A Life)