SEIGFRIED (FRED) BERNARD
Siegfried Bernard was born in Schweinsdorf Germany in 1984 and dies at Quirindi NSW in 1957.
Siegfried ran away from home as a teenager and spent several years working on ships (both sail and steam) around Europe. Skills learnt with ropes and pulleys would serve him well in future years in the transport industry. In 1913 he left a ship in Newcastle and started walking. He settled in Willow Tree, in North West NSW.
His first known association with the transport industry is December 1922, when he was awarded a 3 year contract to run the Willow Tree to Cattle Creek mail run, using horse and sulky. In 1924 he purchased his first truck to run the mail in fine weather and by 1925 had become a general carrier. In 1925 a new 3 year contract was awarded to run the mail by truck for the first 26 miles, then truck, horse and sulky or pack horse for the remaining 17 miles depending on weather. This mail service was continued by the Bernard family until 1974.
Siegfried (know as Fred to family and friends) may well have started road transport of stock, when in 1926 he built a pen on a truck to transport sheep. In the ensuing years when Australia was riding on the sheeps back a big part of the business was carting wool to the rail siding in Willow Tree for transport to Newcastle or Sydney. In 1925, 16 bales of wool was a full load, by 1930 trucks were larger and carrying about 33 bales, then in the late 50's with semi-trailers they were up to 89 bales.
In 1933, Siegfried became an agent for Atlantic Union Oil (later Esso Australia). The Bernard family continued as Esso distributors for over 57 years, spanning 3 generations, until Esso was sold to Mobil in 1991. At this time, they were the longest serving Esso distributors in NSW, probably Australia.
Siegfried Bernard was certainly a pioneer in the transport industry in North West NSW and the Bernard family has been in business in Willow Tree continuously for 96 years. (Although no longer in transport, Grandson David is now in the building industry at the same location).