RONALD BERT WELKE (Ron) was born in 1948 in Adelaide and raised on a rural property surrounded by trucks of all types and sizes. Aged 16, he obtained a truck licence for carting super, grain and livestock assisting on his family farm. In 1970 he married Bernice Marshall of Blackwood SA. They worked the farm for a while before returning to Adelaide. Ron started his driving career driving bus and tour coaches with Cole Bus Services. His first safari tour from Adelaide to Darwin return was in September 1973.
Travelling along the old Stuart Highway, dust was a big part of the adventure, since it was all dirt road from Port Augusta to Alice Springs. On the return journey Ron had to skilfully manoeuvre the coach through floods between Welbourne Hill and Wintinna Stations. This memorable moment was captured in the adjoining photo. The coach is a Freighter built body on a Leyland Chassis. When STA Roadliner purchased Coles Ron stayed and operated tours and charters all over Australia until 1985.
For a short time, Ron drove for Premier Roadlines, Explorer Coaches, before moving across to Quarry Industries where he drove a Volvo tandem tipper delivering sand and metal. In 1987 Ron returned to driving coaches with Ansett Pioneer, Ansett Trailways, and Pioneer Express transporting passengers, mail and freight. Coaches driven include MCI, Dominos, Landseer, and Denning double deckers. Express runs were his favourite especially the Adelaide to Darwin return. Ron was often requested for his detailed tour information, comprehensive itinerary, safe driving, calm nature and good humour. Until 2003 Ron toured all over Australia with Adelaide Coachlines in a new Denning Landseer and later Volvo's. In 1999, he achieved runner up SA coach driver of the year. From 2003 to 2012 Ron worked for with Flagstaff Coaches right up until his retirement. During this time he predominantly drove new Scania coaches with opti-cruise transmission or Volvo coaches with 12 speed auto transmission.
Retirement for Ron was a well earned and joyous occasion. He enjoys reflecting on great memories of the people met from all walks of life while constantly travelling our wonderful country! He says touring Australia, once in your blood will never leave. In retirement, Ron and his wife of 48 years, Bernice, enjoy their family, playing golf and travelling Australia just a little more leisurely in their caravan.