Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2015
Donald John (DJ) Bell was born on the 9th August 1936 at Panmure in Victoria. After leaving school, DJ took a job at a local quarry where he learned how to operate bulldozers and loaders. This was where his love of driving started. He would load trucks for drivers during their lunch break and soon learnt that hard work and good advice were vital components for good operations.
DJ’s own business began over a handshake in 1958 when Jock McLean (an older owner operator) convinced him to buy his old 1954 Model 320 Diamond T for £300 and swap his Rover. He fondly reminisces about the old Diamond T despite the fact that it had little brake power, no heater, no air conditioning and only a payload of 4.5 yards. It had to be retired after when a stub axle and the front wheel rolled into a dry creek bed. A local farmer came to his rescue with his tractor and helped with repairs, but that was to be the old Diamond’s Final Trip.
DJ’s next truck was an F600 V8 Ford with a six yard Body. It was both faster more reliable with more creature comforts. Bell’s Cartage soon bought two more Thames Traders with eight yard bodies making a very productive business with a fleet of fridge and B-Double trucks, civil earth working equipment, quarry operations and Bell’s Garden Supplies.
DJ’s love of the F600 saw him restore an exact model. He had it painted with his sign and original phone number. Over the years DJ’s fleet consisted of Macks, Kenworths, Mercedes, Scanias and Fords. They were all fitted with the biggest bodies and/or trailer combinations. DJ Bell Cartage Contractors Pty Ltd is fully operational today with DJ’s son and daughter now managing the business which is based in Warrnambool. DJ still gets to drive his favourite Western Star B-Double weekly to help with deliveries and keep himself fit and active.
DJ Bell is an icon in the trucking industry in western Victoria and a pillar of the local community. He is a great supporter of the local sporting clubs. He and his wife often host ‘open days’ for the local car clubs and vintage motorcycle groups.