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Year: 2015

Lex Gordon was born in Narrabri NSW to Lambert and Dorothy Gordon, in 1929.

He grow up helping his father with his two younger brothers crating logs out of the Pilliga Forest south of Narrabri using horse teams, until the outbreak of WW2. In 1945, Lex's father Lambert returned from war duties, to Edgerio Station, north of Narrabri. Lambert purchased a couple of International K6's, and K7's from Charlie Campbell, and continued carting timber into Bradley and Whiteman's sawmill.

Lex drove one of these to Newcastle at the age of 16, for a few months carting wool, and then decided to join the Royal Australian Navy. The top Brass noticed Lex's organisational and leadership skills straight away and he was put into training for a commander's position.

But Lex's heart was in trucks, and he left the Navy in 1946. As he said, I would rather be in command of a road train on the highway, than be in command of a ship bobbing around in the sea. He returned to Narrabri at 18 and got his first truck from his father, a Ford V8 petrol. After the war most trucks had petrol engines.

It was during the 1950's that Lex started Lex Gordon Transport, and he had around 20 different truck, Bedford's, Supercharged International 92's, and Reo Speedwagons. In 1951 he married his beloved Mary, and with her help doing all the bookwork, organizing loads, and looking after their children, the business continued to grow.

He was mostly carting wool from Northern NSW to Newcastle, and sheep to the abattoirs in Brisbane. He carted thousands of heads of sheep off Paddy O'Brien's property near Cryon.

The 1960's ushered in a new era for Lex, with the introduction of diesel engines. He acquired all makes and models of trucks including Duetz, Autocars, International Transtars, White 400's, and Reo's. He had some of the very first double deck stock float road trains, carting cattle out of the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Queensland.

It was during this time that Lex found some lifelong friends amongst his drivers, Ray Thompson, Tony Fernando, Tiger Stevens, Phillip MacKensie, Harold Ruttly, and Pommie Jack Emerson to name a few.

The 1970's and 80's saw Lex venture into general freight acquiring contracts with BHP to cart steel into Darwin, to help with the reconstruction after Cyclone Tracey. Lex's eldest son George left Darwin just as Cyclone Tracey hit, and said he was in neutral all the way to Katherine, with just the wind pushing him along. Lex also had road trains running into Mt Isa, carting steel and coal for many years. He continued carting cattle and sheep to and from all parts of Australia up until the late 1980's, but shut this part of the business down when the bottom fell out of the cattle industry market. Lex stepped out of driving in 1974 and into the full time management role of the company, because it had grown too big for him to be away for weeks on end. He continued with carting every sort of general freight, with road trains, to all parts of the country, especially to Darwin, Mt Isa, and to the coal mines in Central Queensland. Some of the trucks Lex acquired during this period were W900 Kenworths, International Transtars, most with 400HP Cummins Engines the best engine ever designed, 375HP Volvos, Ford Louisville's with 903 Cummins and Atkinsion. The roads through North West Queensland and across the Barkly were atrocious during these years, especially in the wet season, with some roads disappearing altogether. With the use of stiff bars, the drivers were able to connect together, sometimes with up to six road trains, to push and pull each other through flooded creeks and across long stretches of boggy road. By travelling together and using this method the drivers were able to keep moving under very trying conditions. Some occasions they were completely stranded with roads being totally impassable for periods up to six week. Having a well-stocked tucker box, and a sense of humour were essential during these times.

The 1990's and 2000's saw another change in direction for Lex with the company going into carting cotton and grain, transforming his fleet from flattop trailers to high side tippers and a change of name to Gordon Roadways.

Sadly Lex lost Mary in 2000. Her passing was a devastating blow, not only for the family, but also for the whole community.

Lex lobbied hard during this time with the RTA to have the highways opened up for road trains, finally getting the right to run road trains through most parts of Northwest NSW. Lex's fleet of 50 road trains now mostly consisting of Western Stars, and he is one of the biggest employers in the Narrabri area, with over 100 staff on the books, ranging from drivers, office staff, mechanics and tyre fitters.

Lex is father to 13 children, Grandfather to 34, and Great Grandfather to 42, with 11 working for Gordon Roadways.

At 89 years young, Lex still oversees the business he and his wife Mary began so many years ago. With over seventy years of contribution and innovation, and the ability to adapt to changing markets and environmental conditions, Lex Gordon is truly a legend of the Australian Road Transport Industry.

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