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Year: 2006

Ernest Brown.Wool! Wool! Wool!

Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2006

Les Brown was born in the small town of Harrow.  He was discharged for the Navy in 1946 and borrowed the money to buy an International truck and 20 foot semi-trailer.  At the time, the railways had a monopoly on carting all freight so trucking was not thought to be a very good investment.

However, the wool carted to the local railway stations overflowed onto the ground in the wet and mud and it stayed there for months.  Famers were irate at wool not getting to the stores for sale.

Les, trading as Brown and Mitchell spent the next 20 years in conflict with the Victorian Transport Regulation Board on the restricted radius for carting goods.  Les used many varied means to stay one step ahead of the Board.  In 1960, using section 92 of the Constitution, free trade between the states, he set up South Australian Companies with a Forwarding Agency and a depot in Naracoorte.  Victorian freight was carried to Naracoorte, trans-shipped through the Forwarding Agency and back to Victoria.  This process was called 'border hopping' and 'sort of' made the carrying of wool 'legal'.  However, by 1965 the firm had many hundreds of fines to deal with.

Les, his driver and solicitor were in magistrate courts in a different town every day.  At Stawell, the magistrate gave Les leave to go the High Court for a decision on transhipping freight between states.  He knew he was in the right and was determined to prove it despite the fact that no-one was willing to stand with him for the High Court case although everybody supported him behind the scenes.  He stood alone and won the case.  Then there was competition from all comers.  Les gradually shifted his business and headquarters to Melbourne and carting interstate to Adelaide for the next 15 years with about 30 trucks.  He moved to Queensland in 1981 and continued interstate carting.  He handed the business over to his son a few years ago.

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