Noel Heppell is a second generation transport operator who started his driving career at 17 in 1961 working around his home town of Cobram in north Victoria, driving for local transport companies Cornish, Kortum and Dowsett carting produce and stock, until his first truck in 1966, a V8 Dodge.
Later he would operate some of the most modern and quickest gear running on the highways. Those were the days of running a fleet of trucks out of a house in Barooga, being a driver, head mechanic and tyre fitter when every dollar saved was the difference between surviving or not.
After getting married to Dianne in 1968 they started to get ambitions and for 12 years were the fleet sub-contractors for Alltrans with 20 trucks, selling out to Mick Travlos in 1980. They then became fleet sub-contractors to other major transport companies running up the east coast with another 15 trucks and for 25 years were the major fleet sub-contractor for K & S Transport.
As with most husband and wife teams while Noel was driving Dianne was at home running the business and raising the kids, a woman's work never finishes. This is a tough industry, as many know, with little reward for the work you put in.
Noel and Dianne Heppell are the classic example of a pioneer husband and wife team who have survived the gauntlet of feast and famine and the ups and downs of the interstate transport in Australia. One being their trucks having 15 major accidents in one year and finally the greatest sacrifice losing their son Rodney in a truck accident in 1989.
Since that time they have volunteered to be part of the custodians of the New South Wales Tarcutta Truck Driver Memorial, keeping alive the memories of truck drivers who have lost their lives doing their job on the highways of Australia. Fundraising for the memorial wall takes them a lot of time and with the help of a dedicated committee, never stops and to this day offers help to anyone in trouble. They currently still operate three trucks with their son out of their home of Kilmore in Victoria.