COOPER, Anthony "Top Cat"

ANTHONY JAMES COOPER, known as Tony, Cooper, T.C. (Top Cat), Coop and Fruit Loops to his friends, was born in Adelaide in 1946. Tony was a “bit of a scallywag” as a young lad and it was said he could easily find mischief. However, Tony grew into a strapping young man who had a passion for “fast cars, fast trucks and fast women”. By the time he was 20 Tony had become a diesel mechanic and was driving trucks. By 21 he was driving interstate and loved it. Trucking was definitely in his blood.

Early on, Tony founded TAWLINE which ran local brick trucks around Adelaide. After TAWLINE Tony started Anson Haulage and his interstate adventures truly began. Anson Haulage carted freight all over Australia and on Tony’s first trip to Brisbane he swore he would never go to Queensland again. Tony thought the roads were tragic, the pot holes were huge and the climate was appalling! Luckily, Tony forgot about this first trip and eventually made many trips to Queensland.

In the late 70s Tony started driving for Frank Lenzi at Cleveland Freightlines in Adelaide. Frank exposed Tony to the Nullarbor with all its glory and his favourite truck of all time – number 49. Number 49 was an SAR with a 425 Caterpillar and in Tony’s own words “it would pull Christ off the cross”. Driving express from Adelaide to Perth, Tony fondly recalls that this was a baptism of fire. On his first trip, Tony was astounded to find that the first stop was 800km from Adelaide at Ceduna and then the second stop was another 700km at the border. Crikey, Tony thought, “that’s equivalent to driving from Adelaide to Melbourne and back!”

Tony reckons these were the best years of his life. He found the cameraderie on the open road was second to none and he forged many lifelong friendships. Tony recalls that if you blew a tyre you would put out a call and next minute there were 3 trucks stopped to help change the tyre, share a cold drink and have a bit of a yarn.

Today, Tony is 71 years young and he still works five days a week for Blenners Transport in Brisbane. He stopped doing interstate trips four years ago and, in 2017, is happy doing local work.