William 'Billy' Kupfer born in Mount Isa 1953, lives and works in Cloncurry Queensland.
Billy's father, who was also involved in the transport industry for 20 years as a fitter and driver, passed away in a tragic truck accident when Billy was 14 years old. Mervyn William Kupfer's name can be seen at the Lights on the hill Memorial wall in Gatton, Qld.
At 15, after a stint as a drover's hand for Jack and Polly Oliver in Longreach, he had his first taste of driving. Carting roo meat down south with Jack, in a single drive bedford 653 GM with a 10 speed road ranger.
At 17 Billy bought his first truck, a V8 petrol Dodge with an 8m tipper. He moved to Collinsville to work it in the coal mine.
Billy worked for various trucking outfits for a year or two and at 17, While working for Barcoo Transport for a contractor he got his Heavy Vehicle drivers licence in a cab over mack.
A trip to Santa Theresa mission outside Alice Springs was his first big run by himself, carting building materials. He didn't know where he was going or what he was doing, got the truck bogged and had to stay at the mission for 5 days to wait for a Brambles crane to arrive and unload him. While he was there he broke out in boils and had to get a penicillin shot!
While with Barcoo he moved the family to Brisbane, did a quick stint with Fitzgerald, then back to Barcoo running Brisbane to Darwin with general freight and backloads of wool from Central Queensland. He also did a bit with Baskett in a Road boss carting flour to Darwin. He got held up in Darwin with his truck during the devastating Cyclone Tracey in 1974.
In 1979 Billy moved his family to Mount Isa while working for Buntine Roadways and had many a memorable time with the likes of Mark Murphy, Prickles, Pissy Peverill and Bear.
Still trucking in 1984, he started working for legends of the industry, Mal and Dawn Cleary and finished with them in the early 1990's. Whilst working for Cleary's, Billy had a role in the 1988 Lindy Chamberlain movie Evil Angels, starring as, you guessed it, a truck driver.
In 1994 Kiernans Transport were looking for a camp cook at their Camooweal camp, so Billy picked up a spoon and a frying pan. Two months in and he was back behind the wheel, and by the end of 1994 he became the Operations manager right through to 2006.
He worked as operations manager for former Darwin company Western Diesel in Cloncurry through to their end in 2014.
There were trials and tribulations a plenty, and there are a truck load of stories Billy could tell you straight from the horses mouth, with a little extra added on. With 47 years worth of yarns, maybe he should pen a biography.
Still operating his Kenworth C500 Old Timer" with end tippers out of Cloncurry he also runs the Cloncurry division of Mount Isa based crane and bulk haulage company, North West Crane hire.
At 62 years young, Billy still has plenty to give the industry, but not just in knowledge and experience. It's that charismatic charm that seems to just come with the territory of the quintessential old-school truckie.
Known for bending the rules to get the job done, his inappropriate (but hilarious) one-liners, and for telling some of the best yarns this side of the border, William 'Billy' Kupfer continues to give his life to the world of trucks and transport. This is a trait he has passed to his children, and more than likely his grandchildren. Slim Dusty sang it and it rings true to this bloke. Truckin's in my blood.
47 years on without any pause in the traffic, and the relationship between Billy Kupfer, trucks and road trains is as strong as ever.