NILON, Frank (Smiler)

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

Frank (Smiler) Nilon, has covered many millions of miles since he first came to the Territory in 1948. In the early 1950s he worked for Co-Ord Transport hauling from Alice Springs to Mt. Isa and Darwin.

He was one of the first drivers to haul machinery into the Mary Kathleen uranium mine. The 45 mile trip from Mt Isa to the mine took eight hours on a dirt track in a flat top Foden. He always carried a case of rum to thank the grader drivers from the mine along the way for without their help he wouldn’t have got through.

He later transferred to Darwin driving for A.B.M supplying blue metal for the aerodrome and later purchased a D7 dozer. He bought his first truck, an R180 Inter with money he earned on wages at the failed Humpty Doo rice project. He carted all over the Territory and Western Australia with loads that included cattle, buffalo, 44 gallon fuel drums, concrete and machinery with almost all of it loaded by hand. Smiler preferred carrying machinery and a relationship with Hastings was forged. He still carries for them. He says he would have carried more Caterpillars into the Territory than any other person. Smiler moves machines all over Australia and is held in very high regard with Hastings Deering who took him to their USA factory. Smiler and Helen purchased their first new Mack in 1967; it was the first R model V8 B615RS to arrive in the country. He has owned many more since.

Helen often travelled with Smiler on the highways escorting the wide loads and heavy lifts and generally taking care of him. In 2002 Helen passed away. Smiler did one last trip to Darwin; it wasn’t the same without her. He still operates Nilon Heavy Haulage out of Brisbane but leaves the driving up to his employees.