SMITH, Donald

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

Donald Jeffrey Smith was born on the 9th August 1941, but according to his licence it was 1940.  In 1958 Don started driving trucks for the first time for Vasiks Pet Foods, carting kangaroo carcasses. The run was from Wanaaring and the Back o’ Bourke to Bourke.  After about 14 months he left there with the only reference he ever got!

Don then bought his first truck, a petrol Bedford, and so off to cart water for the Walgett DMR. He sold that truck and upgraded to an International with a Perkins motor.  That venture didn’t go well. So it was off to the “Big Smoke,” carting tin-plate to Brisbane. This also didn’t go well as a bearing in the motor went.  Don patched it with a piece of leather and he finally made it to Brisbane.

After driving for Kevin Dickinson for a few months, Don headed to Wellington driving for Western Haulage.  After a while there he decided to go work for Connie Jones carting general and wool. Next he worked for Gerry Letts, carting Nitropil to Mt Isa. Back then the road was dirt, 3 kilometres out of Longreach all the way to the Isa. Don then headed back to Dubbo to work for Bruce Dickinson for several years.

Don was picked up by brothers Mick and Paddy Ward and their mate Peter Tudor. Driving a Kenworth W-model carting livestock and general Don did his first ever run to Darwin carting for Ansett Freight. In 1974 Don was doing a trip up north with the family in tow, his wife Kate and kids Ashley, Ross and Cherie. They were stopped in Katherine by Cyclone Tracy. Kate and  the kids stayed there while Don, in the first roadtrain into Darwin, delivered general goods to Major General Stratton.

When he got home from that trip Paddy Ward bought Don a brand new Kenworth W-model with a V12 in it. After driving that for a few years Paddy bought the tanker business Westoil. Driving out of Melbourne one night, near Koowotha, two young drivers were side by side as they came over a hill towards Don. He kept the rig on her feet but that was the end of the tanker run for Don. Paddy then gave Don an old Mercedes Benz 1924 model truck and told him “Pay me back when you can.” Don carted stock for Smorgsons and Anderson meats in Inverell for 2 years. Don decided to go back on the Darwin run for TNT Express this time with eldest son Ashley in tow.

In 1983 Don once again ‘upgraded’ to a K124 (a lemon from the start) obtained from his mate Rod Pilon. On the first ever trip the gearbox went. Don ‘booked up’ a new one from Eddie Emerson. Needless to say it wasn’t long before Don had another truck, a Kenworth cab-over from Blackall Freighters.

So after 52 years in the trucking industry Don has had many trucks, experiences and mates. He has too many tales to tell but is still trying to make an honest dollar with the help of his sons, Ashley and Ross.