Phill William James was born in 1949 at Broken Hill to a family of truck drivers and continues the family tradition with his wife Leeann by his side.
Phill’s father and uncle drove trucks their whole lives and started Phill off early in the industry. In fact, Phill’s one and only accident was in a cab over Mercedes that he tipped over on the Broken Hill to Wilcannia road. To this day, he maintains that it doesn’t count since he was too young to hold a licence, being 16 years of age at the time, and possibly may have had a few brews beforehand.
Phill started out off siding with another driver in his father’s NR Macks until he got his licence in 1969 and starting carting stock locally. He then moved interstate for several years.
After marrying in 1973, Phill and Leeann caravanned up to work on the Moomba pipeline for three years, carting fuel and pipes, and doing rig shifts. The very first truck Phill bought himself was a 2624 Mercedes cab over, and it was put to work on the pipeline before being traded in for a W model Kenworth.
After three years in Moomba, Phill and Leeann settled in Broken Hill and to this day are carting stock and doing the occasional pipeline job.
Phill is a quietly spoken man and recalls his worst trip was around 1995 in an older Kenworth. It dropped a valve on the Ivanhoe to Wilcannia road while loaded with goats. Phill had to get parts sent from Adelaide, which were ordered early in the morning but didn’t reach him until midnight. A long night was spent putting in the piston, new head and the turbo, all by torchlight, until finally the repairs were finished and he was back on the road by 8 o’clock the next morning.
Phill says he has had a pretty quiet career but others remember some of his exploits, including a daring episode where he stole back his own truck. The larrikin who bought it never paid for it, so Phill and a mate saw it parked at Yunta and decided to confiscate it!
Phill’s current pride and joy is a 620 Cummins signature Kenworth called ‘Golden Nugget’ which was purchased in 2009.
Footnote: Gary Radford is one who believes the rollover does count, as he attended the scene to clean up the mess made by the rollover and drove the Army Blitz Chaplin Birkenhead-built crane from the site – a single-drive R&R Earthmovers Leyland towed a Jimmy Clay-built 2 axle step-deck low-loader. The prime mover was carried on the trailer, the front axle was built up high so the stock trailer could slew on the turntable and was all brought back to Broken Hill in one piece. The Blitz crane was driven back from the Spring Hills Area west of Wilcannia