Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Lester Wilkinson’s first recollection of his introduction to trucks was that as a child, he was surrounded by them. Both his parents and grandparents drove trucks. One of Leseter’s favourite memories is, as a boy of nine, sitting on a box next to his grandfather while he drove around the family farm in his old White truck. By the time he was 14 Lester was driving his father’s Bedford during hay carting season and gaining lots of experience at reversing the truck onto the trailer. One evening he drove from Stawell to Navarren following his father who was driving the truck in front. Young Lester was under strict instructions not to attempt to pass anything and to keep a clear distance. Lester went on to drive many of his father’s trucks and cars on both long and short distances before he got his licence.
The day he turned 18, Lester obtained his articulated truck and a car licence by simply driving a truck to the police station. The policeman had known about Lester’s years of driving and did not hesitate to give him his licence.
Lester’s first real driving job was driving an Austin owned by Horsham company, Fox Transport. He was stationed at Rainbow to cart livestock from farms to the sale yards and to the meatworks in Melbourne. When Fox Transport purchased Southern Mallee Transport, Lester was transferred to Hopetoun.For the next seven years he carted sheep, cattle and hay in a Gardner powered Atkinson from Hopetoun and the surrounding districts to many parts of New South Wales, into the Brewarrina area, and Victoria. During this time he met and married Helen and in 1970 moved to Ballarat where he worked for Selkirk Bricks driving a 1418 Mercedes, and later a Kenworth with a 903 Cummins and a dog trailer. Lester carted bricks all around Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and became a familiar sight on the highways.
Brick carrying was a big change from unloading livestock with the help of a cattle dog. There were 66 bricks to a pack which weighed 260 kilograms. 140 packs made a full load on the Kenworth trailer and dog trailer all of which was unloaded by the driver using a manual brick buggy and an aluminium ramp attached to the trailer. It took up to two hours to unload if it was a good flat and dry site. Two hours was the target time for unloading and there would be questions to answer if the job took longer. Lester spent 14 years with the bricks before becoming a front end loader driver at the clay pit. He did this for the next 16 years before he settled into retirement.