Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2013.
Noel Charles Bransden (Sambo) was born in Ulverstone, Tasmania in 1952. His father worked machinery in the logging industry in the rugged and isolated Tasmanian bushlands which helped Noel develop his interest in trucks and logging. As a youngster Noel also drove a Dozer on his Pa's farm. By the time he was 15 Noel had left school to work in the timber mill in Heyfield. He later drove a dozer for the Heyfield Logging Company. Noel went on to have a varied career eventually moving to Dandenong to drive a tray truck for Raymonds and later, a Diamond Reo log truck.
Noel then moved to Melbourne to drive interstate. He spent two years working for Goldhill. In October 1977 he purchased a log truck and contract from E.Hesz. The truck was an International AB 184. He carted logs for a year before a change in log quota meant he lost his contract - as last on he was first off. In 1978 Noel bought a Mercedes 2632 and jinker and spent five years carting from Mt. Useful, Tamboritha, Catherine Station, Dargo and Mt. Selwyn.
By 1981 Noel also owned a Kenworth SAR and was carting sawn timber to Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville. In 1982 he went into partnership with Kevin Conway and purchased the Kenworth W model which would write him into history. They named the truck 'Big William' after local mechanic Bill Munson and, 'Big William' was big by the days standards. It had dual range two speed Eatons 58,000lbs diffs and a GVM of 125 tonne. Big William's maiden voyage was carting a transformer from Villawood to Pt. Henry at Geelong and it has never carted a light load since. Noel Bransden went on to haul ten of these transformers which can still be seen when driving past Pt. Henry. Other heavy haulage work included 50 ton gearboxes and 325 ton drive heads to Loy Yang and moving 42 x 500 ton precipitators. With these massive loads 'Big William' took the lead and a B Model Mack and White pushed from the rear. Noel has used a variety of trailers over the years including Drake and Nicholas but it was always Big William that attracted all the attention. Noel estimates he travelled nearly five million klms in Big William.
Noel Bransden and Big William are well known all over the country. Noel was known as a patient and 'no fuss' operator never losing his cool, no matter the size of the load or difficulties encountered along the way. Noel himself states the only thing he ever got cranky with was the RTA. Today Big William hauls logs. Noel would still be driving it except he has developed Multiple Sclerosis and has had to stop driving. Never-the-less he still lovingly supervises 'Big William' on a daily basis from his phone and chair. Noel has owned Big William for 31 years. Their story exemplifies how man and machine can connect in a working relationship. Noel lives in Heyfield with his partner Julie and enjoys being part of the local heritage truck club.