VAN LUENEN, Will

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

Will Van Luenen, also known as Big Will, was born in November 1956. He first learnt to drive in a Dodge 760 diesel at the age of 18. As soon as he got his licence he bought his first rig, a CK40UD, and Van Luenen Transport was born.  He next bought a 30/70 ACCO and it was in this truck he began his love affair with the Hume Highway.

Early on in travelling the Hume he realized the importance of drivers travelling together. If there was ever an accident or breakdown he was always the first to stop and help regardless if he knew them or not. He drove the Hume for 35 years. During this time he met and talked with many people. He believed radios were a truckies lifeline, a tool to be used with other drivers. He would always take the time to talk to other drivers, to offer advice, report road conditions, safety issues, or just to be social. He would often joke about having 2 phones and 2 radios in the cab.

He always had the utmost pride in all of his rigs. They were always kept immaculate with polished chrome rims, tanks and painted tyres. Early in his driving career someone called him “shiny wheels from Shepparton” as an insult. He thought it was funny and it became his motto for many years.

The thing he enjoyed the most about the early days was the fact there wasn’t as much regulation in the industry. People were responsible for their own actions and had to think for themselves.

In his 35 years of driving Will became an icon of the Hume Highway. He befriended thousands of drivers during that time. He was a true gentleman and was very highly respected among his peers. A funeral attendance of over 1300 people, 80% of whom were drivers, shows the amount of respect the industry had for him.

A few days after tragically being killed doing the job he loved, a memorial was built at the accident site.  It is maintained by fellow truckers; lit up at night and many hundreds of air horns are heard every night as trucks pass by.