Colin Harold Eades, known as Col, was born in August, 1918 in Sydney, New South Wales. As a young lad, Col qualified as a motor mechanic and when World War 2 unfolded, he put his age up so he could join the Royal Australian Airforce. Col served his country and remained in the RAAF after the war.
However, Col resigned from the air force when his father’s health declined and his brother’s leg was crushed in a sawmill accident. Col and his wife, Doris (better known as Dolly) moved to Urunga, New South Wales, to help run the family’s sawmill but when his father died, Col discovered the business was in a very precarious state. Concerned for the workers who relied on the mill for their livelihood and to save the business, Col sold the home he and Dolly were building to purchase more logs. The family then moved into a one room hut on site where they lived for the next 20 years.
At that time, fuel was transported to Urunga over the treacherous Dorrigo Mountain in 44-gallon drums tied onto tray top trucks. On the steep and dangerous gradient, thieves would jump onto the back of trucks, cut the ropes and roll the loose drums off. The solution to this problem was having the driver’s wife sit on the back tray with a loaded shotgun!
Realising there was an opening for transporting fuel in bulk over the Dorrigo Mountain, Col approached the Shell Company in Sydney. An agreement was reached for transporting diesel and petrol out of the South West Rocks fuel terminal to the New England areas and later to Miles and Roma in Queensland. This agreement remained in place until the business was sold decades later.
Col and his brother, Bruce, sold the mill as they needed to purchase four AEC trucks for the new venture. To assist with financing, Alan Kyle from Kyle’s Transport and Alec Cooper stepped up as shareholders and Trial Bay Haulage was established in November, 1961. While Alan and Bruce eventually withdrew as shareholders, the partnership between Col and Alec remained firmly in place.
The early years of seven day working weeks were physically taxing. Trucks were serviced out in the open in the mill yard, exposed to all elements. Col not only wanted a smart looking fleet; he demanded the highest standards of maintenance. It was not uncommon to see Col and one of the drivers working on a vehicle, laying in the mud with a tarp thrown over the work area to keep the rain from falling on them and the repair work they were doing. Realising that the AEC trucks were not capable of the hard haul over the Dorrigo Mountain, the decision was made to purchase one of the first Kenworth S Models that arrived in Australia. The fleet then grew to eight Kenworth prime movers.
Col remained the Managing Director of Trial Bay Haulage Pty Ltd until his death in December, 1983. Loaded with fuel, he was returning to Urunga when there was a single vehicle accident; it was the first fatality in the history of the business. Col was survived by his wife, Dolly, son John, daughter, Kristina and their families. Dolly and Alec Cooper continued to run the business until it was sold to Brambles Australia in 1988.
Col Eades, a man of integrity and ingenuity, was dedicated to the transport industry and the people who worked in it. Many of Col’s employees had been with him since the start of the business and in time, some of their children were also employed by the company. Col always said that the business was only as successful as its employees.
Col was held in great esteem and was always willing to help others. It was not uncommon for Col to be woken during the night to help a driver who had broken down and then turn around and work the usual 12-hour shift. Col loved what he did and is remembered, across the industry, with great respect and admiration by those who knew him. Inducted in 2021