CALI, Joe and Len

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2011.

Giuseppe (Joe) Cali emigrated from Sicily in July 1928. With little more than a suitcase and a mandolin he took a northbound train to Innisfail in North QLD. He settled in Mourilyan and worked as a truck driver delivering beer and groceries to gangs of cane cutters.

By 1932, at just 20 years of age, Joe had saved up enough to repay his father for his boat fare and to buy his first taxi. He operated under the name 'Mourilyan Taxi Company'. In 1934 he commenced the Cowley bus route, the first of many he went on to run in the Innisfail district. Joe's bus company was initially called "Cream and Green Buses".

During WWII, Joe and younger brother Len spent time in internment camps along with other Italian migrants, and Joe's wife, Anna was left running the bus and taxi business. After WWII Joe and Len hand built ten buses to expand Joe’s business. By 1950 most bus services in the Innisfail district were operated by Johnstone River Transport.
In1960, in partnership, Joe and Len formed a trucking company to haul bulk sugar from Goondi Mill to Mourilyan Harbour, and from Babinda Mill via the transfer siding at Boogan. To distinguish between the two companies, the bus company was called "Johnstone River Transport Co. Nol" and the new truck company "Johnstone River Transport Co. No.2". The initial fleet consisted of six AEC Mandator and Mammoth Majors towing dog trailers. The following years saw more mill contracts awarded and by 1977 the AEC fleet grew to 34 trucks.

In 1971 Joe sold his buses to brother-in-law Sam Rinaudo and Joe's family retained the JRT No.1 company name. Joe passed away in 1974 leaving  Len and Joe’s two sons to carry on the business. In 1977 Leader trucks were added to the fleet. In 1979 the company was renamed and traded as “JRT2” and was jointly owned by two family trusts (Joe Cali Holdings and Len Cali Holdings). In 1982 Len retired and handed the business operations to nephews Ross and John, and his own son Ross. There were now over 50 trucks in the fleet. In 1984 14 Mack MCR trucks were added. Len Cali passed away in 1993.

1992 to 1998 saw the fleet change to 37 B-Doubles. In 1998 the Cali business was sold to Wesfarmers who retained the JRT2 name. The Cali families made a great contribution to their local economy and the road transport industry generally.
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