Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.William (Bunny) Preston was born in Wollongong, NSW, in June 1923. His father was an oil company representative and his mother a nurse. The family travelled extensively as his father was transferred to different locations around the state. This meant the young Bunny was educated at 13 different state schools.
In 1939, while the family was residing in Armidale, Bunny left school and joined the Bank of NSW where he worked for a couple of years before deciding to join the war effort. He enlisted in the RAAF in 1941. Starting as a RAAF flight mechanic Bunny eventually served as a pilot flying with the Australian and American Air forces in the south-west Pacific. In late 1945, Bunny left the RAAF and took a position with Guinea Airways flying both local and interstate routes throughout Australia for the next couple of years. Prior to the war Guinea Airways had become one of the largest air transport operators in the world carrying more freight than the rest of the world’s airlines put together. Many demobbed military pilots took jobs with Guinea Airways at war’s end.
Looking for a change of pace Bunny started driving interstate for iconic transport company Antill Ranger in the 1950s. In a left hand drive Mack and tipper with Peter Antill he hauled pipes from Danks in Melbourne and later drove semi-trailers hauling general between Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and beyond. Bunny joined John Drings Transport just as they became part of Jim Collier’s organisation. While he primarily worked as their interstate representative he still drove heavy transports as often as he could.
In late 1951 Bunny decided to purchase his own carrying business. He took over the Government licensed road services to Aldinga, the Fleurieau Peninsula and Cape Jervois in South Australia. He sold this business to Southern Transport in 1955 and went on to establish Interstate General Haulage and Road Tanker Fleet to service the Port Stanvac Oil Refinery. In 1969 the business merged with Mayne Nickless who had recently also taken over Antill Ranger. Bunny stayed on with the new business as an executive for the next three years before working as a shipping and transport consultant for West Coast Commodities of San Francisco exporting grain and stockfeed to Japan. After that he worked for various government transport authorities and departments.
Bunny retired in 1988 but has carried out various voluntary consultancy projects since including serving for 15 years as Director of Transport for the S.A. State Disaster Plan. He has many great memories of working in the air, land and sea transport industries over the years but one of his favourites is heating his lunch, canned beef and vegies, on the exhaust bracket of the engine.
Well into his nineties, the indefatigable Bunny Preston is still driving. He occupies his time delivering meals on wheels in his local community.