Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.
John Sheppard is a third generation transport driver and owner operator from Warrnambool in Victoria. He was 19 when he got his first truck driving job hauling lime from the pit to the rail siding at Warrnambool in a TK Bedford tipper owned by Dalgety Lime Works.
His next job was with Doug Murray carting bulk fertilizer from Portland throughout western Victoria. He then spent 13 years working with Merri Transport primarily carting cheese Warrnambool to Melbourne although he also did some interstate line-haul as well.
In 1985 John bought his own truck, a 1980 S-Line International with a 300hp Cummins, a 15 speed Roadranger box and 3.7 ratio diffs. It had originally been a log truck in Tasmania and had 500 000 klms on the clock. John fitted a sleeper cab and extra fuel tanks, had the Cummins upgraded to 450hp and went hauling interstate. He kept the truck for nine years and did 2.5 million klms carting mainly produce for H E Heather & Co all over Australia. His favourite runs were fruit and vegetables from Brisbane to Cairns and bananas from Innisfail to Perth. As John owned a double stacker freezer van he would often load fish products from Albany and Esperance and backload these to Brisbane. The round trip would take him 12 days.
In 1994 John and his wife Lyn purchased an established courier franchise in Geelong and opened a new franchise in Warrnambool soon after. Lyn managed the Geelong business and John looked after Warrnambool and drove their linehaul truck to Melbourne each night. In time, the couple’s son, Tony, bought his own truck and worked with them as a courier until June 2001 when both franchises were sold. It was time for a well-earned four month caravanning holiday around Australia.
On his return John purchased a 1980 Kenworth Aerodyne and started carting woodchips from Morwell, Vic to Millicent, SA for Sneaths Transport. After that contract was completed John returned to interstate towing a new 48ft freezer van carting ice cream. In 2003 a second truck was bought for Tony to drive carting bark products from Mt Gambier to Melbourne.
John stopped doing interstate in January 2004 and began local work around Geelong and Melbourne. In 2012 the Sheppards have a depot in Melbourne with 16 trucks working for three companies doing container, flat top and tautliner work. The fleet consists of six Kenworths, three Freightliners, two Fords, a Western Star and a Mack. Tony owns a Western Star doing container work and eight year old grandson’s pride and joy is a 1978 R-Model Mack which John retired from the fleet for them to restore.