McRAE, Frederick

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.

Frederick (John) McRae was born in 1928 at Kilkenny, Adelaide. He started work as a truck driver and drove for many companies for over 25 years carting barytes which is dense barium mineral used as a weighing agent in oil, drilling mud and in manufacture of paints, rubber, glass, papers, plastics and linoleum. John carted from the mine located in Bunkers Ranges, Willow Springs 70 kilometres north of  Hawker in South Australia on the Wilpena - Blinman Road. This run included a mail contract service for nine outback stations with stores until 1961.

Edgar Ward employed John in August 1953 to drive a Commer five ton tipper 61 miles one way on a dirt road for a wage of two pounds and five shillings. The freight, barytes, was taken to Hawker railway where it was dumped on the platform and then loaded onto railcars by a front end loader until a ramp was built in 1956/57.  Because of the very heavy nature of barytes the railcars always looked only half full.

In 1956 this contract was given to WP Sloan of Adelaide. This time John drove an International tandem tipper with two dog trailers before progressing to a twin steer Foden for four years.
 
South Australian Barytes Ltd provided its own trucking service from 1961 paying John a wage of five pounds per trip. He shared the work with Bernie Matthews in a Foden semi-tipper. Eight years later John drove this Foden to Inverway in Western Australia where the company had commenced another mining project. Logistics and costing at this time caused the venture to fail and the Foden was retired at the end of its long and strenuous trip. Malcolm Nickels of Port Pirie took over the contract in 1969 and provided an International DCF 402 Transtar 350 Cummins for John to drive.

When the railway closed between Hawker and Quorn the barytes was taken direct to the crusher plant at Quorn which was a 200 mile round trip in an era of no workplace and safety rules or unions.

August 1978 saw John start his own contract business with the South Australian Highways Department. For 13 years he worked on sealing the highway between Hawker and Lyndhurstin South Australia. All up, John has spent 40 years looking through a windscreen. In that time he has become well known on the outback roads of South Australia.

 

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