Sydney Cook had 52 years behind the steering wheel. Many stories have been told as each new trip brought a new tale.
Sydney started with a 1954 Austin Loadstar five litre petrol truck with a Hannaford Seed Cleaner on the back, working around Bruce Rock area in Western Australia. The late 1950s and early 1960s saw him driving Leyland Coments to cart sheep and cattle, as well as bulk superphosphate which he had to load out of rail wagons using a Clark shovel. He thought this was one of the hardest jobs he had done.
Then in the late 1960s, Sydney started what would become the major part of his life, carting freight to mining sites and towns in the north of Western Australia, many of which were in the early stage of construction. On one trip he was to deliver the very first house frame and building materials to Karratha, which is now a city. He remembers he drove up a station track, over a hill and saw earthworks and cement pads for the first four houses.
As the northwest opened up, early roads were only station service roads. Travel was slow at best and hard on gear. A trip could take up to a week, whereas today it can be done in a day. He recalls that on one trip he had to repair 27 punctures on the side of the road.
In the wet weather he would travel with other drivers so they could push/pull each other through river crossings and many a boggy patch. In the hot summers, driving with no air conditioning and an old water bag hanging off the mirror. Many friendships were formed which have lasted over the years.
Stories of the many types of trucks he has driven over the years make you realise how easy they have it today. Trucks like a Foden, A.E.C. and Leyland Scammell with three gear sticks, Deutz Magirus, 210 hp Mack Flintstone twin stick, White 400 and Road Boss and a Scania.
He regretfully retired in 2010 and now enjoys driving his motorhome around Australia.