Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.Rodney (Burloo) Bowden was born into the transport industry in Bourke in 1958. Being the youngest son of Cyril Bowden, a pioneer in this industry in outback NSW, he was taught at a very young age the survival skills needed to be an outback operator. When Burloo reached the age of 18, Bungee Athorn and Trevor Norris organised for him to get his truck licence in Cunnamulla so he could finally drive legally.
Along with his brothers Ferret, Plugger, Tart and Jimmy, who all worked for the family company, he carted thousands of head of sheep and cattle in outback NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. These years saw great camaraderie between drivers where they looked out for each other and always offered a helping hand. Many trips would see drivers pulled over for a spell, cooking a feed before they continued to make a mile. There were no Engel fridges and air-conditioning was by way of throwing open the bunk doors while they tried to grab five minutes sleep.
Burloo went on to work for his brother-in-law Trevor Norris from 1978 to 1984. One of the more memorable jobs they participated in was the moving of 8000 head of cattle from Delilah Downs, Wanaaring to Dubbo. The unforgiving Wanaaring Road sorted drivers from operators and sent many an unsuspecting driver home with the words, “You can have that job on your own,” to put it politely. They also transported thousands of head of cattle from Cork Station, Winton to Bourke where there were special weekly sales conducted to sell this stock. During the earlier years of his career he drove Diamond Reos, an ERF, a White 4000, Atkinsons and finally Kenworths and Macks.
In 1984 Burloo decided on a change and moved to Brisbane where he worked for Long’s Specialised and Heavy Haulage. He hauled mining and earthmoving machinery and the odd marine vessel. He enjoyed the change of having workmates and driving mainly daylight hours.
In 1986 Burloo followed the workshop manager, Mike Bailey, to Mt Isa and worked for Alford Cattle Transport carting cattle and operating tippers in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
After the death of his father Burloo moved his family back to Bourke where he had his own old truck and carted farm machinery for Wesbeef. He also hauled cotton and wheat and eventually worked for his brother, Plugger, for several years.
In 2000 Burloo moved his family to Gulgong NSW and worked for Shaw’s Darwin Transport for the next eight or nine years. Much of this time he drove two up on the triangle run of Sydney, Perth, Darwin and Sydney.
Burloo, in 2012, is driving for Martin’s Bulk Haulage operating tippers locally. He really likes the idea of being home in his own bed nearly every night.