Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2015
Wilfred (Billy) Ernest Brooks was born in Charleville Queensland in 1943. His family lived at Cooladdi, 100km west of Charleville, on the Quilpie Road where his father ‘Coppa’ ran stock and serviced two local mail runs.
In 1952 Billy began work as ‘gate opener’ for his father’s trucks, while learning to drive an International L160 at the same time. Wool was transported to Brisbane and local machinery was transported back to Charleville. By 1959 Billy was driving an R180 International truck with a 32’ single trailer carting sheep and cattle locally. At 16 he drove a seven ton Commer with a 32’ trailer and a stock crate, painted red and white. He ran this truck as a solo driver into Broken Hill a couple of times with a load of cattle.
An R184 V8 International purchased in 1964 saw the Brook\s business move into roadtrains. Billy has vivid memories of driving the R184 International over to Bulloo River Bridge on the Quilpie road when the river was flooded. He and two other drivers had to get to Quilpie to pick up a load of cattle, so with one mate guiding, they slowly and carefully made their way across the flooded bridge. Mateship was very important on the road in those days.
Later, a Mack roadtrain was add the fleet. It was fitted with a 26’ tray body and two by 40’ trailers. In the 1960s the business changed its name to W Brook & Son and moved into a depot in Hilda Street, Charleville. At the time the fleet included the Mack roadtrain, two International roadtrains and two International single semis, all painted red and white.
A cab-over Kenworth was purchased in 1976. It was the first truck to bear the new colour of green turquoise and include a sleeping cab and air conditioning; what luxury! What relief! Billy travelled to Dalby and Warwick sale yards with six decks of sheep and back-loaded wool to the old Wool stores in Brisbane two to three trips per week. By 1978 W Brook & Son owned 10 Vehicles, carrying both livestock and freight nationwide. Billy and his wife Wendy purchased their own Western Star in 2001 to move freight.
Retired since 2004, the smell of diesel still remains as Billy continues to restore his ‘old’ trucks and tractors.