Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.
Ray’s father, James Wardle, was the local fuel merchant and Ray, as a little boy has to stop and start the truck as the wood was thrown over the back fences.
By the age of 12 Ray was noted for his skill backing semi trailers full of wood into the backyard at home, with the deliveries of wood from the country. By the age of 16 (1954) he’d progressed to driving trucks on the road, with a licensed driver present from Heathcote to Brunswick.
Ray Wardle then worked at Ansett loading and unloading semi trailers until he obtained his licence at age 18. He purchased a ute and delivered parcels on contract for Ansett, until the subsequent purchase of his first truck – a Chev five ton tray truck. In April 1960 he bought a Commer and 34 foot semi trailer with gates and tarps to cart interstate. As an alternative to the demands of interstate, Ray returned to local carting of firewood in the morning, followed by TNT rail carting of Golden Circle products to various warehouses in the afternoon. He also carted fence posts to GH Reid and Sons later carting sand to concrete plants that were being established across Melbourne. So began the tipper business in which he was destined to remain.
Ray’s business began with one truck and soon grew to eight. His fleet contained one of the first bogie semi tippers in Victoria. He continued cartage to the concrete plants for about 13 years for Blue Metal Concrete, until Pioneer Transport was established and he continued to cart for them until 1975. He then took on the role of operations manager controlling the movements of 120 radio-controlled vehicles at all company-owned quarry and concrete plants. Simultaneously Ray ran a truck with Monier Besser Brick which carted the raw materials from various quarries around Melbourne. In 1975 he sold his trucks and with a young family of 11 children, moved to a dairy farm 25kms north of Shepparton, Victoria. A year later he purchased a secondhand Mercedes Benz truck and bogie tipper trailer to contract to the shire and Boral Quarries in Shepparton, resheeting gravel roads. By 1980, three more children had been born.
The current working vehicles in Wardle's fleet number four trucks and dogs; a UD, Mercedes Benz, Isuzu and Mack as well as two Mercedes Benz single drive bogie tippers. Ray managed the operation and drove full time until November 2007 when he took ill so he now drives on an irregular basis. Ray’s eldest son, Gerard, now very capably manages the trucking operation.