Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.
At the age of 14 William (Bill) Smith worked as a jockey for Vincent Ricco, a subbie for K L Mc Kenzie of Footscray and it was here that Bill got his first driving job hauling interstate which he did for the next five years. During this period he carted Olympic cable drums for the Snowy Mountain scheme, general freight, Victor lawn mowers, foam blocks and furniture. In 1975 Bill purchased a White 9000 and carted timber to various places, pipes from Newcastle to the Moomba gas project and grain from Western Australia to central Victoria during the drought.
Many drivers, in the early days, knew Bill for his continuous overloading. His heaviest haul was 104 tons on one trailer hauled by his White in 1976. He and Peter Foster had loaded out of Newcastle for Adelaide. Peter had an 85 ton load. The pair, on a dirt road, came to a wooden bridge and decided one would direct the other across. Peter went first and the bridge sank 18 inches. The bridge reverted back and it was Bill’s turn. The same thing happened but both had crossed safely. The moral was to take it slow so as not to break the bridge’s back.
In 1982 due to financial circumstances Bill lost his truck and started driving for Len Woods carting produce to north Queensland and backloading with copper to Adelaide. Bill then went on to work for Ricky Cobby Transport and Express Fish. During this period his working life was interrupted when he served three months in jail for unpaid fines. On his release Bill returned to work with Cobby. Bill and his brother ‘Willgas’ then bought a White 4000 and carted refrigeration units to booming shopping centres throughout Western Australia backloading with tractors, general and Cummins generators. In 1988 a Road Commander was purchased when Bill had won an EMU gold nugget. Unfortunately Bill’s brother rolled the White at Port Pirie which meant one truck off the road for seven months. The business went backwards financially, his brother “pulled the pin” (resigned) and the trucks had to be sold.
Bill moved to Shepparton in 1991 and drove for Freds, Brisbane to Sydney carting alcohol. After getting his B-Double licence he started with Boggans carting rolls of paper from Melbourne to Brisbane, cardboard from Wodonga to WA for Coca-Cola and backloading with recycled plastic bottles. He moved on to RITS but went broke again and returned to work for Freds until 2011. In 2012 Bill is working for Hicks Transport in Cobram carting to Brisbane.
Bill believes that there will always be a need for the road transport industry as the rail cannot compete where there is no rail infrastructure. He says,
“Truckies really do carry our country.”