In Pictures: i98FM Camp Quality Convoy

By: Greg Bush


Truck traffic at Warrawong. Truck traffic at Warrawong. Truck traffic at Warrawong.
I98FM breakfast hosts Marty Haynes and Bianca Dye. I98FM breakfast hosts Marty Haynes and Bianca Dye. I98FM breakfast hosts Marty Haynes and Bianca Dye.
I98FM’s Marty Haynes in his onesie. I98FM’s Marty Haynes in his onesie. I98FM’s Marty Haynes in his onesie.
i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks4 i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks4
The motorbikes en route to Albion Park. If in Queensland, they’d get arrested. The motorbikes en route to Albion Park. If in Queensland, they’d get arrested. The motorbikes en route to Albion Park. If in Queensland, they’d get arrested.
i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks6 i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks6
A Ross Transport Western Star nears Mount Ousley. A Ross Transport Western Star nears Mount Ousley. A Ross Transport Western Star nears Mount Ousley.
i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks8 i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks8
The unmistakable orange of Cleary Bros trucks. The unmistakable orange of Cleary Bros trucks. The unmistakable orange of Cleary Bros trucks.
i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks10 i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks10
i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks11 i98FM Camp Quality Convoy Illawara TradeTrucks11
Nathan Blackwell is an avid supporter of the i98FM convoy. Nathan Blackwell is an avid supporter of the i98FM convoy. Nathan Blackwell is an avid supporter of the i98FM convoy.
Grant Wasley, left, with nephews Zeke, Ji and son Izaak. Grant Wasley, left, with nephews Zeke, Ji and son Izaak. Grant Wasley, left, with nephews Zeke, Ji and son Izaak.
Michael McLellan, left, and Simon Bartlett. Michael McLellan, left, and Simon Bartlett. Michael McLellan, left, and Simon Bartlett.
Company owner Graham Brown with daughter Cassandra Brown. Company owner Graham Brown with daughter Cassandra Brown. Company owner Graham Brown with daughter Cassandra Brown.
Terry Stewart, left, with son Joel and Scott Master, right, from Canberra’s 104.7FM. Terry Stewart, left, with son Joel and Scott Master, right, from Canberra’s 104.7FM. Terry Stewart, left, with son Joel and Scott Master, right, from Canberra’s 104.7FM.
David Bailey with his travelling companion. David Bailey with his travelling companion. David Bailey with his travelling companion.
Stillwell Trucks’ flashy Benz Actros. Stillwell Trucks’ flashy Benz Actros. Stillwell Trucks’ flashy Benz Actros.
The Murrell Freight Lines fleet at Albion Park. The Murrell Freight Lines fleet at Albion Park. The Murrell Freight Lines fleet at Albion Park.
McCabe Transport’s Western Star Constellation. McCabe Transport’s Western Star Constellation. McCabe Transport’s Western Star Constellation.
The People’s Trucktrailers also offered shade. The People’s Trucktrailers also offered shade. The People’s Trucktrailers also offered shade.
Crowds packed the sporting complex for the entertainment. Crowds packed the sporting complex for the entertainment. Crowds packed the sporting complex for the entertainment.
Hundreds of trucks, thousands of people. Hundreds of trucks, thousands of people. Hundreds of trucks, thousands of people.
The back paddock of the picturesque Croome Road Sporting Complex. The back paddock of the picturesque Croome Road Sporting Complex. The back paddock of the picturesque Croome Road Sporting Complex.

The 10th anniversary of i98FM Camp Quality Convoy brought out the best by far from Illawarra’s trucking community, and beyond. Greg Bush writes

 

Organisers and supporters of the 10th anniversary i98FM Camp Quality Convoy were anticipating a larger event than previous years on November 16, 2014, but were blown away when the final fund-raising tally was unveiled the following week.

The convoy had raised a staggering $1,539,907 for Camp Quality Illawarra. This brought the total amount of funds raised since the event’s 2005 inception to $5,952,921.

Expectations had been building in the weeks prior to November 16, due mainly to the on-air promotion from i98FM’s Marty Haynes, the convoy’s architect, and his breakfast show co-host Bianca Dye.

"I think we were blown away with the actual results," Marty exclaims.

"After 10 years and nearly $6 million, it’s pretty impressive from a community that’s really taken it on board and just loves supporting it."

As well as the record amount raised, the convoy boasted 791 trucks and 1,200 motorbikes. Not to mention the enthusiastic waving from hundreds of people lining the length of the convoy’s route.

"It’s grown in a lot of aspects across the trucking industry, and the great thing about it is the actual mateship," Marty says.

Glenn ‘Yogi’ Kendall from Kendall Trucking can lay claim to being the furthest travelled entry to the convoy. Yogi, who appeared in television’s Outback Truckers early in 2014, arrived from Western Australia.

"He was blown away," Marty continues.

"I spoke to him the day after and he said ‘I was crunching gears while I was flowing with tears’, and I thought ‘how true’."

The convoy kicked off from its usual rallying point at Illawarra Coal’s West Cliff Colliery on Appin Road at 8:15am. The bikes led the way, with the trucks departing around 45 minutes later.

The convoy then weaved its way down Appin Road, up Mount Ousley, and off the freeway to the suburb of Warrawong, past Stockland Shellharbour before reaching its destination of the Croome Road Sporting Complex in Albion Park.

 

I 98FM-Camp -Quality -Convoy ,-Illawara ,-Trade Trucks 22

Fierce bidding

Camp Quality’s Bec Stewart, whose son Blaine was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, had the honour of being the lead bike. The lead truck position went to the ‘People’s Truck’, owned by Derek McMahon of McMahons Transport. Both honours were eagerly sought after following furious bidding during the i98FM on-air auction in the week before the convoy.

The highest lead truck bidders — including Craig Duren from MJ Rowles, Matthew Murrell from Murrell Freight Lines, Alan Ross from Ross Transport and Rob Starcic — bucked the usual trend by donating money towards the People’s Truck.

"They threw money at that while donating to make sure the People’s Truck led the convoy for the 10th year," Marty says.

"That’s just great camaraderie, that’s what the trucking industry is about, getting in and helping a mate."

The vagaries of weather had the convoy starting off from the colliery in pouring rain. Marty, who along with Matthew Murrell, Alan Ross and Derek McMahon, was challenged to don a onesie up on the mountain. No worries, thought Marty.

But by the time the trucks reached Mount Ousley the rain had eased, and the sun appeared, soon to be accompanied by gale force winds.

Marty, behind the wheel of a Ross Transport Kenworth, was fourth behind the lead truck, arriving at Albion Park shortly after 10:30am.

Such was the length of the truck convoy that the tail-enders were still filtering into the grounds at 1:30pm where the on-stage entertainment was in full swing.

Local band The Villains were followed by Dami Im, Taylor Henderson and Guy Sebastian.

While many stayed the course and soaked up the atmosphere, other truck owners and drivers set off early in preparation for local and interstate runs that night.

"They go home, drop the kids off, and hook up the trailers and head off to Brisbane and Melbourne. That’s pretty special," Marty says.

"They might not get home until Saturday, then they wash the truck and then they’re rolling again."

 

I 98FM-Camp -Quality -Convoy ,-Illawara ,-Trade Trucks 11

Police support

As well as the local trucking community, Marty says the police have been a huge support, raising their own funds for the convoy.

"They do a trivia night, they do a big oztag day, they raised $22,000 this year and they raised $25,000 last year.

"They’re not a company; they’re just a group of individuals that want to give something back to the community. I think it’s great," he says.

"I did a big talk at the police academy, and one of the assistant police commissioners came up and said ‘I’ve never seen a community like what you guys do, it’s amazing’.

"And the CEO of BlueScope said to me ‘I’m not from Wollongong and I’ve travelled the world, and I’ve never seen a community get together like they do there’," Marty says.

"It’s not about me, it’s not about Bianca, it’s not about the radio station, it’s about putting a smile on a kid’s face, making him or her feel good, and just the worries of cancer gone for a day. That’s what it’s about."

Marty says, through the convoy’s funds raised over the years, Camp Quality Illawarra is now able to grow its services.

"They’re expanding their services to look after kids whose parents have cancer," he explains.

"How many times do we hear that a 37-year-old mum with three kids is suffering breast cancer?

"Well Camp Quality will be able to lighten their load a little bit, either taking the kids on a camp, or paying for an electricity bill, or car registration.

"The money stays within our region, we don’t pump it into Sydney, it stays in the Illawarra. We want it to stay here," he adds.

I 98FM-Camp -Quality -Convoy ,-Illawara ,-Trade Trucks4

 

Recognition

Marty received an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year for his service to cancer support organisations. It was on the same day as original Convoy For Kids co-founder John ‘The Ferret’ Moran received his OAM.

"He must feel proud as punch, coming up with the convoy idea years ago," Marty says.

Appreciative of WIN Television for its support each year, as well as his employer i98FM, he is already looking ahead to this year’s event in November.

"We’ve got something really big; it’s already locked in," he says.

"I already have people ringing me, and even my wife, who’s never driven

a truck, has been challenged by Craig Duren, to learn to drive a truck."

Marty, however, is also looking at a bigger picture. With the Riverina Truck Show and Kids Convoy kicking off last year, and the Geelong Camp Quality Convoy taking place on February 15, he believes the concept could go Australia-wide.

"If we can do it right across the nation I think it would be absolutely brilliant," he says.

Blackwall brother

Nathan Blackwall reckons he’s been to around seven out of the 10 i98FM Camp Quality Convoys held. Nathan, along with his brothers, operates the suitably named business Blackwell Bros, dealing with earthmoving and demolition.

"We have two supply yards and tip facilities," he explains.

"We’ve got one at Kembla Grange at Wyllie Road under Wollongong Recycling, and one at Helensburgh under Blackwell Bros Landscape Suppliers.

Nathan, who rolled up in a cab-over Kenworth, says Blackwell Bros is mostly among the top 10 trucks in the convoy. As for vying for the lead truck position?

"We’re not that rich," he laughs.

"Maybe if we join forces with someone else we might."

Nathan Blackwell is an avid supporter of the i98FM convoy.

 

Perfect record

Grant Wasley can boast 10 out of 10 appearances at the i98 Camp Quality Convoy, the last four with Nightingale Transport.

For the 2014 event, Grant drove a 14-month-old Freightliner Coronado, with son Izaak and nephews Zeke and Ji in tow.

Nightingale’s had 10 trucks in the convoy, although Grant explains that most turned around before entering the sporting complex due to work commitments. When we caught up with him, Grant was ready to hit the road as well.

"I’ve got to go soon and pick up a trailer and go to Brisbane," he explains.

"This is the biggest convoy truck wise, and with the people on the side of the road it’s up there with the best of them," he says.

Echoing the thoughts of all who take part in the convoy, Grant says it’s all about the kids.

"The amount of time the drivers put in washing and polishing their trucks, it’s all done for the kids," he says.

Grant Wasley, left, with nephews Zeke, Ji and son Izaak.

 

Work commitments

 "He’s the heir apparent," jokes Michael McLellan, pointing to fellow Graham Brown & Daughter Transport driver Simon Bartlett.

"He’s the daughter’s [Cassandra] boyfriend."

Michael and Simon drove a couple of Kenworths in the convoy for the Moss Vale-based company, Simon behind the wheel of a K200 with Michael driving a three-year-old T609.

"I haven’t really had much experience in the bonneted trucks," Simon explains.

"I find the cab-overs a lot easier to see out of it."

Michael says the convoy is all about raising money for the families of kids with cancer, and he was determined to spend a couple of hours at Albion Park despite doing an interstate run that night.

"I’ve got to go to Ballarat tonight," he says. "But the kids are more important."

Company owner Graham Brown with daughter Cassandra Brown.

 

Toothless tiger

"Kids love it," says David Bailey of his life-like furry passenger. With many drivers dressing up for the i98FM Camp Quality Convoy, David opted for a life-like tiger.

David owns and operates a Hino 500 as a franchisee for Barnetts Couriers. He mostly operates out of Lithgow, Nowra and the Wollongong suburb of Fairy Meadow.

"I’ll have to shoot off later and go up to Lithgow tonight, and Bathurst" David explains.

"Then I’ll come back and do all around Sydney."

This was David’s fourth appearance at the convoy. "The first one I went to I was driving a Scania," he smiles.

David Bailey with his travelling companion.

 

Canberra connection

The i98FM Camp Quality Convoy and Canberra’s Convoy for Cancer Families have obvious strong links. Importantly, Canberra is where i98FM’s Marty Haynes first began organising fund-raising convoys for Camp Quality.

Canberra is also the home of Terry Stewart, owner of family company TJS Country Express. A former Wollongong local, Terry arrived in a Kenworth K200 with son Joel Stewart and Canberra’s 104.7FM DJ Scott Masters.

The three made an imposing sight, with Terry laughing that they made a "great front row". "We would have played for Australia," he says.

Terry also explains that TJS is named after himself — Terry John Stewart — although he laughs when he says it could also be interpreted as "this job sucks".

A number of the Illawarra trucks travelled to the nation’s capital in February last year for the Canberra convoy, so for Terry it was a case of returning the support. "This is our first time in Wollongong," he says.

"We have six trucks here, with a couple more rigids over there in the back paddock that were too long for the line-up."

The 2015 Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families will take place on February 1.

Terry Stewart, left, with son Joel and Scott Master, right, from Canberra’s 104.7FM.

 

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook