Robin James McKinnell, nicknamed ‘Sharkey’, was born in June, 1951 in Orbost, Victoria. He was driving a Blitz by the age of twelve and worked locally with his father when only 14½. When he was 16, Robin went to Western Australia and drove a dozer on a gas pipeline, after which he came back east to work at the Snowy Mountain Scheme’s concrete plant. He then moved on to drive a Blitz, logging for the Hamilton Saw Mill.
When he was 18, Robin went for his driving licence in Cann River, Victoria, but the officer said he already knew of Robin’s driving skills so there was no need to go for a driving test! Robin spent 12 months working in sawmills around Cann River before heading to Healesville, closer to Melbourne, to do similar work. Finally he left the mill to work on earth moving, dam building and delivering hardwood chips to Footscray every night.
Robin first started interstate work when he was 25 years old, driving a single drive 671 Atkinson for Harry Powell Transport before moving to BJ Ahern, for whom he drove a 1924 Mercedes Benz carting hanging meat. After this he carted machinery to Western Australia for Goldhill Heavy Haulage. By the time he was 28, he was driving for Alpine Freezer Haulage in Healesville, running between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. He then proceeded to drive for Wettenhall Transport running from Melbourne to Sydney and driving a 1418 Benz, S2 Kenworth and a Mack.
Deciding it was time to go out on his own, Robin purchased himself a B Model Mack and a R200 International for which he employed a driver, running between Melbourne and Sydney. He upgraded to a Kenworth S2 and had a regular run to Sydney carrying blood products for Trans National Express. Robin also worked for Harcross in Sydney and carted potatoes from Gembrook in Victoria, to Sydney and Brisbane Markets. He kept his trucks on interstate runs until 1998.
In 1987, however, Robin went in partnership with a local contractor, logging in the Victorian Central Highlands, Mansfield, Matlock and Woods Point areas. With his three sons helping him, he continued harvesting and haulage in the hardwood industry and in 2009, purchased a disused saw mill in Murrindindi, Victoria. With his industry knowledge, Robin built up the business over the next nine years, employing 22 people and carting his own products to all states of Australia. The mill closed in 2018 due to a government buy-back of timber licences. Inducted in 2021