Inducted into the Rimula Hall of Fame at ReUnion 2015
Noel “Bunny” Bunworth was born December 1938, in Melbourne. The freedom of travel appealed to Noel from a young age. In 1962 he commenced his truck driving career in Sydney for Cook’s Transport driving a Chevy Maple Leaf rigid tray truck doing local trips to the wharf.
Just two years later Bunny moved to Melbourne to drive for Mayne Nickless and then for Coulson’s Transport in a Mercedes Benz on Interstate runs. He next worked with Walter Wrights before transferring in 1975 to Mackay, driving a Load Star. The sugar industry led Noel to work for Zarb Road Transport in 1977. For the next eight years Bunny was permanently employed by Mackay Transport, later McAleese Transport, before returning to Walter Wrights. Keith Price of McAleese Transport offered Bunny a forklift job which he accepted. When a shoulder injury prevented him from lifting heavy gear he returned to Zarb Road Transport carting sugar again.
Noel bought a Toyota Hiace van to do pilot work in the off season before Zarbs employed him in a fulltime position. In August 2005 Noel broke his back and after six long months, he could finally sit and walk again, but was devastated when told that he would never be able to drive trucks. He converted a Hiace van into a pilot vehicle in 2006 and commenced doing wide loads for McAleese and Megalift (later Lampson). Bunny says that his longest trip was with Megalift, from Gladstone to Kalgoolie via Tennant Creek, lasting 21 days. His biggest load was a dump truck from Mackay to Chilligo for Walter Wrights. It was 5 metres wide, 5.2 metres high and 27 metres long, weighing in at 90 tonne. Noel recalls a memorable trip from Melbourne to Darwin, carting an underground miner and blowing 15 tyres on the way.
His repertoire of vehicles includes Chevy Maple Leaf, Bedford, Mack, Kenworth, Volvo, Mercedes, Peterbilt, International and Road Commander. His favourite truck remains the cabover Kenworth, Truck No 736 “The Bitch” which he drove for McAleese. At the age of 76, Noel has decided that it’s time to retire. His knowledge, storytelling and running commentaries in his pilot vehicle will forever be remembered by truck drivers, police escorts and fellow pilot drivers.