Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.
Mick DeVries’ trucking career started in 1941 when, as a teenager he drove a 1933 Indiana with a gas producer picking up milk cans in the Drouin area. Located 90 kilometres south of Melbourne, the area has always been a major supply and service centre with a number of small sawmills scattered throughout the area, a huge dairying sector and later a creamery and butter factory were established in the town.
In 1947 Mick formed his own milk round and cartage business called DeVries Brothers and in a new 1946 Ford also carted logs from nearby Jindivick to Melbourne and many other localities throughout Victoria and New South Wales. He remembers the many challenges of the Cann Valley Highway when it was little more than a twisting and winding gravel road barely wide enough for one truck.
In 1956 Mick secured an SEC contract to cart poles to the depot in Brooklyn, Victoria. He purchased a Diamond Reo with a single axle jinker, an old Ford Blitz with a winch and armed himself with a five foot cross cut saw, two axes and two wedges. The Reo was destroyed in an accident in 1961 and Mick rebuilt it with an old F22R Reo cab. He later replaced this cabin with a 1952 Federal style liner cab. At this time he also replaced the engine with a Diamond T 634, the radiator with an International R190 radiator, a Timken 2 speed differential, a White 5 speed gear box and an International F1800 over and under direct joey box. These changes were recorded on the truck registration papers as “a conversion.”
Needing a larger jinker, Mick purchased a 1940 McGrath self-tracking tandem jinker. Necessity is the mother of invention and several modifications by Jim Kendall meant it became one of the first self loading tandem jinkers. Mick felt privileged to be the first to use it. This converted truck has become Mick’s heart and soul. It helped him provide for his family, nearly cost him his life on numerous occasions but always got him home. He still has the truck to this day after working on restoring it for a couple of years until it was finally completed.
Over the years, in numerous trucks on different jobs, Mick recalls many nights of sleeping in sawmill fire pits to keep from freezing and the times he went skidding off the road in the snow on the narrow, gravel Bonang Highway. He remembers driving in the sleet and snow with no heater and often no windows in the trucks and balancing a loaded truck over the edge of a narrow mountain road. He remembers roadside repairs for springs and axles and even the time he had to change a gear box on the side of the road. These were just a few of the incidents and challenges he encountered in his career.
Mick DeVries is a worthy recipient for inclusion on the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame.