Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.In 1912 the Merrett family started road transport in the Nhill district of Victoria. Nhill is a small town located in the Wimmera in western Victoria approximately halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne. Today, many road transport hauliers use Nhill as their ‘change-over’ point. The Merretts however, were operating there long before road transport. George Merrett was there at the very beginning of settlement working a bullock team carting wool from Nhill to Portland.
Percival (PA) Merrett worked with his brother George for a number of years before he decided to acquire his own horse team which he used to cart hay throughout the area in the 1920s. Eventually PA conceded that the horseless carriage was the way of the future and traded his horses on a T Model Ford. As well as hay PA now carted firewood to local flour mills and to bakeries for use in their kilns. PA married his wife Ida in 1922 and they went on to have six children all of whom have been involved in the transport industry.
It was tough times for all during the Great Depression and the Second World War despite fuel rationing and the financial downturn but PA continued carting grain, sometimes without payment, for local farmers. In these years PA operated a 1935 Ford he nick named ‘The Flipper’. The wheat was hand loaded into bags, then hand loaded onto the truck; and then unloaded by hand the other end. Flipper could carry136 bags of wheat weighing around 11-1/2 ton.
PA and three of his sons decided they would need to go border hopping to improve the viability of their business. This meant they carted freight over the border, changed trailers and then returned to where they had started. They did this for a number of years but due to continual harassment from the Victorian Transport Regulation Board, who zealously protected the interests of rail freight, were forced to abandon it. In those days a permit fee was necessary for carting freight out of the state in which the load originated. Permits were only given for freight the rail couldn’t carry such as perishables and fragile freight. In later years PA went into buying and selling scrap metal and mallee roots in Melbourne. This meant that he could backload his trucks.
PA has left behind him a fine legacy for the road transport industry; all his sons have continued working in the road transport industry with their own trucks.