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National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion

National Road Transport Hall of Fame reunion

Central Australia is home to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame and its 15th reunion attracted visitors from across the country.

How do you hugely increase the population of Alice Springs? You hold a celebration marking 15 years since the National Road Transport Hall of Fame opened its doors and extend an open invitation to those in the road transport industry, that’s how.

The Hall of Fame has become a national trucking treasure, highly regarded by all within the industry and features so much of our early and not so early transport history that it is difficult not to be impressed.

This year reunion celebrations saw thousands of people attend, a time to catch up with close friends and acquaintances, and honouring those who forged trucking routes and services into the sophisticated trucking network the country enjoys today.

But the National Road Transport Hall of Fame is more than a museum, rather it has become an iconic centre attracting visitors from around the globe, and well attended by some of the nation’s largest trucking operators as well as drivers, who have supported the initiative from day one. It also sees trucking bodies such as Transport Women Australia Ltd and others hold meetings and the reunion has become a major event on the national trucking calendar.

All major truck manufacturers are represented at the Hall of Fame, with Kenworth dealers constructing a building to house its Australian history, and among other displays you will find examples of some of the primitive machinery that served Australia well as the nation was developed.

The facility is run by dedicated people and is a volunteer based organisation dedicated to the preservation and presentation of Australia’s unique road transport heritage.

The Road Transport Historical Society charter is not only to remember the great trucks, buses and vehicles of the past, but recognise the contribution of the men and women who have dedicated their careers and lives to pioneering our road network and trucking services.

The 2010 reunion was so big that for weeks leading up to the event many restored vehicles made their way to Alice Springs, multiple trailer loads of equipment on the highway leading to the city. Exhibition space was soon occupied and a huge number of trucks were on display outside the grounds.

Founder of MF Brunt Transport in Colac Victoria, Merv Brunt, drove his restored 1935 Brockway to Alice for the event. Merv, at 75 years of age, is aiming to raise $75,000 for Anam Cara House in Colac.

The fundraiser was launched by the Victorian Transport Association and donations can still be made to the VTA or any Bendigo Bank in Australia. Merv’s commitment to the Colac community and road transport cannot be understated.

Social events escalated and on most nights functions were conducted in most venues available in the city centre. The reunion dinner was split into four sections, with attendees able to select from a choice of locations on a first come, first served basis.

Road Transport Hall of Fame CEO Liz Martin OAM has been a powerhouse in promoting both the road transport industry and Alice Springs and was recently awarded the highly esteemed Northern Territory Brolgas award for her contribution to tourism.

Liz has written a number of books on road trains and trucking in the Northern Territory and at the reunion launched her latest publication titled My Territory, My Story, My Life containing an entertaining and impressive section on the industry and her experiences on the ‘Track’ and inside truck operation.

The weeklong event had something for everybody regardless of their connection to road transport and the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame was a highlight. On the Saturday an open day encouraged the general public to attend to see how trucking has changed the face of this country and contributed to our lifestyle in the most practical manner.

Sunday saw over 300 restored vehicles participate in a parade through Alice Springs, but this was a limited number as the trucks transported to the event could not all be accommodated in the convoy through the city.

What is interesting is that while the 15th reunion saw accommodation booked well in advance, it is the same every year as more make their way to the centre of Australia to take part in celebrations. Hotels, motels and other accommodation facilities report bookings have already been placed for the 2011 reunion.

The National Road Transport Hall of Fame is the largest trucking museum in the Southern Hemisphere and growing, with more undercover exhibits being created to house increasing vehicle donations each year. Among exhibits are trucks and trailers encompassing all applications.

Examples are the legendary B-Model Mack and other earlier models, Freighter trailers, Mercedes-Benz, MAN such as the truck used on services to the Gulf by the late ‘Toots’ Holzheimer, Peterbilt, Volvo models including F86 and F88, the first Kenworth built in Australia, early Freightliners, Scania and Isuzu as well as vintage Fuso trucks and more.

Of course there is a lot of history when it comes to road trains and the first to go into service, the AEC Government road train and the truck operated by the legendary Kurt Johanssen, known as the father of the concept, have been preserved for all to see.

There is much to be proud of in our road transport past and it is all on display in Alice Springs, certain to maintain this unique history for generations to come.

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