Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Robert Swan first became interested in trucks during the early 1950s. His best mate’s father had an International KB5 towing a 28 foot trailer with two decks sheep and one deck cattle. Robert lived in country Victoria and it was common for boys to drive tractors, cars and trucks without a licence. When Robert obtained his licence he decided it was time to relocate to Melbourne and drive trucks for a living. His first job driving was at Mayne Nickless on Footscray Road. When applying for the job the boss didn’t believe he could drive semi-trailers, had his licence checked and made him do a reverse test.
Robert’s first six months were spent doing wharf and rail cartage, driving Bedford and Thames semis and later on an Atkinson 6x4 rigid fitted with a bulk flour tanker . It had a top speed of 32 mph. During this period Robert’s parents moved to Doncaste not far up the road from the Cameron Transport depot. Robert successfully applied for a job with them doing local work eventually progressing to interstate runs to the Sydney markets. When things were quiet he decided to head to Alice Springs and got jobs driving for well known Centralian Dick Rogers on livestock haulage and later for Northern Transport who owned a 6x4 Oshkosh fitted with a CAT motor.
On returning to Melbourne Robert drove livestock trucks for various operators at the Newmarket Saleyards. In the early seventies he started work with the East Coast Transport, Williamstown Depot. He drove several trucks in this era including a Mercedes Benz 1418, an ERF, White 7,000 and 9,000s and later Road Commanders and a Kenworth fitted with a VT903 motor. Freight carried ranged from general to paper rolls and pallets, GMH boxes and steel. East Coast Transport conducted a trial during this time using a van to carry rolls of paper loaded onto jay loaders, then pushed into or pulled out of the van.
During the late 1970s Robert Swan moved to Brisbane with International. During the 1980s he drove for Nick Banavas, Joe Bonica and Finney Bryce. He started with Roadways in the early 1990s and says he worked with a great bunch of fellows all travelling to various places: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Cairns, Brisbane, Perth and Alice Springs. Towards the end of the decade when Toll took over they reduced Brisbane drivers in favour of Melbourne based drivers.
After a short break, Robert joined Booth Transport, Rocklea, Brisbane and spent nine and a half years running the Brisbane branch and West Wyalong return shuttle. Today, In 2013, and for the the last two and a half years Robert has been driving container B-doubles from the Brisbane Gurulmundi Mine to Port Brisbane on a daily basis. In the 50 plus years Robert has been in the industry he has witnesssed many changes.