Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Chris Howlett was born in Bairnsdale, Victoria, in March, 1945. One of his favourite earliest memories of life on the family farm at Swan Reach was of wearing out his first truck carting dirt under the tank stand outside the kitchen window before he was 6 years old. Chris was fascinated with trucks and machinery from that point on and always knew he would end up driving trucks whether it was local work or running interstate.
Chris worked on the family farm driving tractors in the cold and wet and as he watched the trucks going by on the highway he thought about the day he’d give the tractors away and get out of the rain into a dry cabin of a truck.
It didnt take long before he was carting hay in a Morris commercial. He went on to drive a variety of trucks including an Austin, Chevrolet, Reo Speedwagon and a Bedford or whatever he could get to drive. In the early 1960s Chris went to Moyhu,Victoria, to work for his cousin, Ken Howlett, for the Hop season. His first trip to Adelaide was in an International AA180 with a four wool bale height of hops. Carrying over 100 bales, in low low for 1/2hr down the Adelaide hills was a good introduction into truck driving.
Later in the 1960’s Chris purchased a boat carrying business from his cousin, Ken, and worked out of Savage Boats in Williamstown. He also carted private boats up the coast of Australia, mainly into Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide until 1980.
After a short stint of driving for John Jarvis and Graeme ‘Jingles’ Neal in Bairnsdale, he moved to Merimbula, NSW and set up a Mini Mix truck business. It was back to Melbourne in 1987 to drive for John Savage; this time running to Cairns, Perth and Darwin. In 1991 Chris bought a Nissan UD and worked for Bert Mole in Burpengary, Qld, carting plants to Melbourne and light freight back to Queensland. Chris recalls he was one of the last blokes to drive a Perkins from Melbourne to Cairns.
In 1993 Chris bought a 112M Scania which already had 1.2million klms on the clock. Chris added another 1.4 million klms working for John Rowell carting Chep pallets in Melbourne. Chris remembers the best three things in transport as power steering, tubeless tyres, and horsepower. Good horsepower saved going into ‘low low’ over 100 times between Melbourne and Sydney. Chris retired, somewhat unwillingly, in 2010.