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Year: 2016

Ralph Wood was born in Melbourne in 1909. After he completed an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic, he started a small garage and transport business with partner Arthur Cordell. Due to the restrictive Victorian State Government legislation preventing trucks competing with the government owned railways, Ralph had to seek work for his trucks further afield and moved to Balranald in 1934. He began trading as Westland Motors and specialized carrying wool and livestock.

ln the not too distant past, wool was moved long distances by bullock and horse wagons, and drovers were used to move stock. Ralph started out with two Bedford prime-movers and trailers. He was quite innovative and built his own semi and stock crates at the rear of the Homebush Hotel.

Ralph's first load of sheep was from "Mulurulu" Station near lvanhoe NSW to Swan Hill in Victoria. It was one of the first loads of sheep moved by road transport in Western NSW. It proved successful thus gave graziers quicker access to southern livestock markets.

With the advent of war in 1939, petrol was rationed. Ralph and his mechanic, Tom Lister, converted the trucks to run on power kerosene. With shortages of manpower and fuel, they converted one truck to a two-engine outfit by using electricity to power a motor on the back axle of the semi. It was revolutionary at the time. The unit travelled atrocious roads ranging from muddy quagmires to shifting sandhills. All the while inching slowly towards its destination loaded with 101 bales of wool.

After the war, Ralph's fleet of eight trucks were replaced by new trucks powered by five-cylinder Gardiner diesels. In 1952, Ralph moved out of the trucking business to concentrate on his garage business, taking on the Nuffield franchise, and later, the Ford franchise. He sold the Westland Transport business and goodwill to Mr Bill Harrison of Balranald.

Ralph Wood passed away in 1997 aged 88 years. Ralph is recognized in the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame for his years of pioneering services to Australia's fledgling road transport industry.

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