Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Thomas (Tom) Atherton was born in 1946 in Bendigo Victoria. His father operated a Ford ‘side-banger’ carting wood, which Tom began driving from an early age. Tom fondly recalls being caught by the police at Big Hill near Bendigo with his Dad in the passenger seat feeling unwell. He was only 14 at the time. Tom officially started driving trucks at the age of 18 carting chicken manure around the Bendigo area in a Dodge truck. He has since owned many trucks including a 1965 Commer Knocker, a 10 series Dodge with a Cummins, a Ford Louisville and in 1978 he purchased a 1976 S2 Kenworth, a Western Star and a cab over Kenworth. He also owned a 1984 Kenworth 345 Marque III.
When he first started out in the industry, Tom subcontracted for Mansells Transport in Mildura, carting market goods to Sydney and Melbourne. Tom later went on to subcontract for Moore’s Transport in Moama carting general freight. Moore’s had a depot in Hattam Street Bendigo. Tom then started working for himself carting general, steel and wool. He carted wool direct from farms and wool stores around Bendigo, to Lara and Geelong and many other wool stores. Tom has carted freight for many companies in Bendigo who have been customers for over 35 years. He was the second person in Bendigo to obtain a permit to legally cart into Bendigo, because of the railways freight system.
Tom and his wife Carmel have now been the owners of T J Atherton Transport for over 46 years. Athertons distinctive black trucks are well known in the industry. They currently run three Cummins powered Powerstars, one S-line, a Transtar, an International Eagle 9200, three tray trucks and a signature 600hp which Tom drives. The business employs six drivers including son, Gary. Tom still drives from Bendigo to Melbourne daily carting general freight and his employees cart groceries and general freight. Tom Atherton has driven over 10 million kilometres during his working life. He travelled over 2 ½ million kilometres in his Western Star alone.
Tom and Carmel still have no plans to retire. He says he loves the power of a big Cummins, the feel, the smell and everything else about it. With modern technology he misses seeing the plumes of black smoke from the exhaust stacks.Tom has seen many changes in the industry over the years and he has hundreds of truck related stories to tell. His love of trucks is still as strong today as it was when he first started in the industry as a 14 year old.