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Year: 2007


Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2007.

Wallace Wathen, at 18 years of age drove a loaded semi to the Leeton NSW motor registry office to get his licence in 1948.

Frank O'Connell, the truck's owner had told him to go get a licence, deliver the load and he'd  see him in a few days time. Wally was tested in the loaded semi, passed, and when he told the tester he was on his way to Sydney, he was met with a terse, Good Luck.

Wally went on to drive a 1947 Ford semi with 12 tons to Sydney and Melbourne return for years hauling wheat, rice and wool. It was his policy to never leave a paddock under 18 tons.

This truck had initially come from America as a 2½ ton Ford. Australia fitted it with a 2 speed diff and called it a 5 ton, the owner fitted a semi and it became a 12 ton. Wally always said it was, under powered, under braked and overloaded.

In 1951 he flew to Alice Springs to drive the arduous Alice Springs to Darwin run for Len Tuit Tours. Len had the road mail contract to Darwin and Mt Isa, Queensland and his coaches also did local touring. Wally drove the coaches, K5 Inters with  4 cylinder Gardners, for three months before being promoted to drive to Darwin and return in an old army K6 International fitted with a 5 cylinder Gardner. He carted perishables and mail at a top speed of 38 miles per hour, leaving Alice Springs Sunday morning to meet the Darwin train at Larrimah (a 1927 Leyland on rail wheels) on Monday night and then again on Thursday night for the return mail.

Returning to Leeton he got a job with Frank O'Connell and went over the side of the single-lane wooden bridge, Sydney side of Yass in NSW, dropping 90 foot to the river bank, wrecking the loaded 47 Ford. He survived and later drove for Jack Grace Cattle, J. Patton & Sons and Kortum Bros, Cobram carrying apples and pears from Harcourt, Vic to the Sydney market. Wally retired from interstate driving in 1958 but later bought small vans to deliver general and air freight around Melbourne until he retired in 1997.

Today he enjoys the occasional trip to Alice Springs to volunteer at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.



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