Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Ronald (Ron) James Erhardt was born in 1943. He bought his first semi trailer in 1965. The next year he was awarded the mail contract that serviced all the sheep stations between Mildura, Victoria and Darnick, NSW. Darnick was a railway siding where the settlers lived with their families on the Broken Hill to Sydney railway line. It was a 375 miles (600lkms) round trip. The roads were all dirt but rain, hail or shine, Ronnie did the trip 52 weeks a year for over 35 years in his Bedford. It is little wonder he earned the nickname 'Ronnie Mail'.
As well as the mail, fuel, gas and groceries that Ron carted every week there was a very diverse range of big and small items. From fencing material, motor bikes, fridges, rolls of carpet, parts for anything that had broken down and the occasional pen of chooks, Ronnie Mail always managed to fit everything on.
Ronnie was bogged many times, especially in the big floods of 1974. The detours he had to take were long and arduous but he always got through. The worst ever was between Balmoral and Pan Ban where nine inches of rain fell in one day and 40 inches all up. This made the Willandra Creek run which it hadn't done for decades making it impossible to get through so he used to come back to these properties from the other end of his run. This meant lots of extra miles but he made sure no-one missed out on mail or supplies. When the Mulurulu Creek ran the detour was out through the sand hills and this was, Ronnie remembered, quite a wild ride with much gear changing. There were many other detours made from time to time. The invention of the UHF radio was a big help to Ronnie, before that he walked many miles for help.
The big bush fires in 1975 held him up as he stayed to help fight them. Ron went missing for a week as all the phone lines had burnt down and there was no way to ring home. There was grave concern about Ronnie Mail's wellbeing but eventually the Pooncarie Post Office rang to say he was safe.
On weekends Ron carted wool, his biggest load being 62 bales stacked four high. He was one of the first to use a hydraulic wool loader. Ron also carted fuel and anything else the station people needed in the Ivanhoe area. Keeping fuel up to the wheat growers was at times quite a challenge. One memorable trip was when Ron took 14 tons of bricks out to Torlega Stations on the west side of the Darling River. It was 115º in the water bag and by the time the truck was unloaded, each brick by hand, it was on dusk. Everybody sat in the bottom of the big hole and had a few beers.
Ron owned many trucks over the years including Bedfords, a Ford D800, a Leyland, an International Acco and an International Bogie Drive VT190 (his last truck). Ronald Erhardt passed away in July 2013.