In Pictures: 2015 Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families

By: Greg Bush


Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks2 Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks2
Lead truck driver John Harris with his grandson Jasper Innes. Lead truck driver John Harris with his grandson Jasper Innes. Lead truck driver John Harris with his grandson Jasper Innes.
Handprints from the Fraser Primary School students. Handprints from the Fraser Primary School students. Handprints from the Fraser Primary School students.
Dan Rodovanivic drove a Kenworth T359 for D Group. Dan Rodovanivic drove a Kenworth T359 for D Group. Dan Rodovanivic drove a Kenworth T359 for D Group.
Melissa Gardner, CEO of the ACT Eden Monaro’s Own Cancer Support Group. Melissa Gardner, CEO of the ACT Eden Monaro’s Own Cancer Support Group. Melissa Gardner, CEO of the ACT Eden Monaro’s Own Cancer Support Group.
Paragalli Haulage came over from Queanbeyan. Paragalli Haulage came over from Queanbeyan. Paragalli Haulage came over from Queanbeyan.
Lining up at Gungahlin. Lining up at Gungahlin. Lining up at Gungahlin.
Into the paddock at Gungahlin. Into the paddock at Gungahlin. Into the paddock at Gungahlin.
Murrell Freight Lines travelled across from the Illawarra region. Murrell Freight Lines travelled across from the Illawarra region. Murrell Freight Lines travelled across from the Illawarra region.
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Southwell Water’s Mack Metro-Liner arriving at Gungahlin. Southwell Water’s Mack Metro-Liner arriving at Gungahlin. Southwell Water’s Mack Metro-Liner arriving at Gungahlin.
Thumbs up from Capitol Chilled Foods. Thumbs up from Capitol Chilled Foods. Thumbs up from Capitol Chilled Foods.
Spectators lined the streets as the convoy arrived at Gungahlin. Spectators lined the streets as the convoy arrived at Gungahlin. Spectators lined the streets as the convoy arrived at Gungahlin.
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Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks16 Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks16
Elvin Group’s fleet travels along Parkes Way. Elvin Group’s fleet travels along Parkes Way. Elvin Group’s fleet travels along Parkes Way.
Holcim’s lead truck on its way along Canberra Avenue. Holcim’s lead truck on its way along Canberra Avenue. Holcim’s lead truck on its way along Canberra Avenue.
A big turnout from the firies. A big turnout from the firies. A big turnout from the firies.
Murrell Distribution flew the flag for Fuso. Murrell Distribution flew the flag for Fuso. Murrell Distribution flew the flag for Fuso.
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Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks22 Canberra Convoy Cancer Families 2015 event TradeTrucks22
Part of the Carways fleet. Part of the Carways fleet. Part of the Carways fleet.
The convoy proved to be a run home for Gungahlin Concrete’s DAF CF. The convoy proved to be a run home for Gungahlin Concrete’s DAF CF. The convoy proved to be a run home for Gungahlin Concrete’s DAF CF.
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Boss Haulage’s Isuzu FXZ. Boss Haulage’s Isuzu FXZ. Boss Haulage’s Isuzu FXZ.
Joe Harmer. Joe Harmer. Joe Harmer.
Dick Bates. Dick Bates. Dick Bates.
The Best Volvo award went to Brema Group’s Euro 5 FM. The Best Volvo award went to Brema Group’s Euro 5 FM. The Best Volvo award went to Brema Group’s Euro 5 FM.
Tony ‘Kiwi’ Jeffery, left, and Justin Fleming. Tony ‘Kiwi’ Jeffery, left, and Justin Fleming. Tony ‘Kiwi’ Jeffery, left, and Justin Fleming.
PFD Food Services’ Isuzu FRR 600. PFD Food Services’ Isuzu FRR 600. PFD Food Services’ Isuzu FRR 600.
McInerney Transport’s 1986 T400 SAR. McInerney Transport’s 1986 T400 SAR. McInerney Transport’s 1986 T400 SAR.
Chris Riley. Chris Riley. Chris Riley.
Daniel Finucane. Daniel Finucane. Daniel Finucane.
Shane Wharton. Shane Wharton. Shane Wharton.

The trucking industry from the nation’s capital and surrounding areas joined forces to support the 2015 Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families. Greg Bush reports.

 

Australia’s national capital played host to its biggest convoy ever when around 450 trucks, 400 motorbikes and 18 buses gathered at the outer Canberra suburb of Beard, just across the New South Wales border from Queanbeyan on February 1.

However, this was not a mass of truck owners and drivers converging on Parliament House to protest against excessive charges, but rather a united major fundraising event for the Cancer Support Group.

With hundreds of spectators lining the route, the convoy passed alongside Lake Burley Griffin en route to the suburb of Gungahlin for a day of festive fun and live music.

In the three years since the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families was resurrected, the event has grown in stature.

It was apparent early on that this year’s event would surpass previous years in terms of vehicles taking part.

Lead truck driver John Harris, driving a Mack Metro-Liner from construction specialists Holcim, was forced to push forward along Norse Road in Beard, the starting point for the convoy, as more trucks arrived before the 9:30am departure.

"We’ve moved up three times this morning since we’ve been here," explains John, as he waited for the signal to depart.

The Holcim agitator earned the right to lead the convoy after big-bidding TJS Country Express preferred to take 10th place.

John’s grandson Jasper tagged along for the ride, doubly pleased as the Metro-Liner’s agitator was wrapped in a sheet of calico showing the multi-coloured handprints of his fellow Fraser Primary School students.

"The school had a fundraising day for the cause," John says.

"The kids each paid a dollar to put their hand print on it."

Holcim had originally planned to have 25 trucks in the convoy, but a late withdrawal saw its representation down to 24.

"We’ve got a 1936 White and she was on her way out here but only got a kilometre up the road," John grins.

"She got a bit tired and needed a rest, and we couldn’t get her going again. I think they’ve had it picked up and put on a flat top and it’ll be at the other end."

 

 

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Fleet presence

Holcim has been a strong supporter of the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families since it was back on the calendar in 2013. Fellow construction specialists Elvin Group also had a large participation, as did TJS Country Express, Toll, Tony Innaimo Transport and D Group, whose Kenworth T359 was fourth from the lead.

According to the T359’s driver Dan Rodovanivic, D Group had eight trucks in the convoy. Dan has been with the company for around a year, and was surprised but pleased that he was behind the wheel of D Group’s leading truck.

"I don’t know, it just happened," he laughs.

Not far back was the TJS Country Express’ Kenworth T908 ‘People’s Truck’, driven by Andy Kuncedic. Andy says TJS manager Joel Stewart put in a winning bid to lead the convoy, but opted to be further back in the queue to allow the rest of the area’s trucking community to vie for pole position.

On arrival at Gungahlin, Andy manoeuvred the truck to be near the on-stage entertainment. The Monsters of Rock, a ‘super group’ containing members of Rose Tattoo and The Screaming Jets, with special guest Angry Anderson up front, added to the event’s vibrant atmosphere.

 

 

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Distinctive charity

Melissa Gardner, CEO of the Australian Capital Territory Eden Monaro’s Own Cancer Support Group, was thrilled at the number of participants, and the amount of money the event raised.

"I’m not supposed to have that many trucks, but I can’t say no," Melissa tells us.

"I just see 50 bucks, and I think that’s half a gift voucher I can give a family for a week."

The event raised $231,317, up from $197,000 from 2014’s convoy. As well as the convoy entry donations, this amount included $7,600 through bucket collections at the grounds in Gungahlin.

The official total was announced at the recent Canberra Show on Radio 104.7FM’s Scotty and Nige Breakfast Show. Radio hosts Scott Masters and Nigel Johnson are enthusiastic supporters of the convoy.

In November last year Scott made the trip across with the TJS Country Express crew to the i98FM Illawarra Camp Quality Convoy.

Melissa explains that the ACT Eden Monaro’s Own convoy differs from similar events in that the funds raised go towards cancer patients of all ages.

"One hundred per cent goes back to the community and none gets used on wages, hence why we have only three people in the office, Melissa says.

"They know if they give us a dollar, that dollar goes back out. That’s the biggest thing with the support from the Canberra people; they know where their money’s going."

"Everyone knows someone who’s gone through or who has cancer, either survived it or passed away, so they put their hand.

"But the truck drivers and the bike community, they’ve been fantastic."

 

 

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Spic and span

Joe Harmer had the honour of leading Tony Innaimo Transport’s 14-strong fleet in the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families.

Driving a brand new Kenworth T904, this was Joe’s first time in the convoy.

"I’ve always been working," Joe says of his unavailability in previous years. "Usually Sunday’s the first day of the [working] week."

"I think nearly all of the drivers will be going to work this afternoon or sometime during the night."

Joe says the work can take him almost everywhere, although Sydney to Melbourne is the regular run.

As for the Kenworth’s sparkling appearance, Joe says it’s the norm for the Innaimo fleet.

"They’re usually like this all the time … 99 per cent of them do anyway."

"They always look spic and span," he smiles.

 

 

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Spotless Actros

The trucks from Jag Pumping looked the goods on convoy day, especially the company’s Mercedes-Benz Actros driven by Daniel Finucane.

As with most taking part in the convoy, it was a matter of giving up the weekend to help raise money for the local Cancer Support Group.

"I washed the truck yesterday so it’s seven days this week," Daniel smiles.

Business is going well for the Queanbeyan-based Jag Pumping, who specialise in everything concrete.

Looking around at the trucks ready to depart along the convoy route, Daniel could already see that this year’s event was a lot bigger than 2014.

"Last year we had three trucks in the convoy, this year we’ve got six," he says.

 

 

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Interstate veterans

One of the oldest and most good-looking Kenworths taking part in the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families was McInerney Transport’s 1986 T400 SAR, which surprisingly was making its first convoy appearance.

In previous years, the Tumut-based business has opted to run a T604.

The SAR’s regular driver Lee Brooks explains that the "boss has had it for 11 years". And it has a 14-litre Series 60 Detroit Diesel under the bonnet.

"She was doing interstate until June last year," Lee says.

"He had air bags put in it a couple of years after he got it, done it all up and had it resprayed."

 

 

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Joint effort

ACT Heavy Haulage was arguably the newest outfit in town to take part in the convoy, with Chris Riley driving a 2010 model Volvo FH16.

As his son Tyler waited patiently in the truck’s cab, Chris explains that ACT Heavy Haulage is a partnership between two businesses, Specialized Towing and his own enterprise, Anytime Towing.

"We only started before Christmas," Chris says.

"We’ve got a quad axle float and we’ve got a dolly, and we’re going to have a go at heavy haulage."

"The Volvo is in really good nick, and it’s the first one of hopefully a couple."

Besides the FH16, four Specialized Towing-branded trucks also took part in the convoy.

"We’ve been in about two or three," Chris continues. "We don’t get many opportunities to stop work and go in the convoys. But this year, we thought bugger it, we’re stopping and we’re going to have a go."

 

Close to home

Canberra -Convoy ,-Cancer -Families ,-2015,-event ,-Trade Trucks 35Although he’d attended Canberra’s Convoy for Cancer Families in previous years, 2015 was Shane Wharton’s first appearance behind the wheel of a truck.

Driving a PFD Food Services’ Isuzu FRR600, Shane explains the connection he has with the ACT Eden Monaro’s Own Cancer Support Group.

"My missus has only just gone through cancer herself," Shane says.

It was just over a week before the convoy started that Shane’s wife Kylie was chemically cleared of cancer.

"She’s got three spots on her spine to go, but they’re dormant," he explains.

"She had cervical and ovarian cancer and blood clots on the lungs; they virtually gave her six months."

"That’s the reason why I figured I’ll get in and drive."

Shane says, although he had only started with PFD Food Services in February 2014, he could not praise them enough for their compassion during the past 12 months.

"They’re pretty good; they look after us," he says.

"When we first found out and the missus was going through the chemo and all that, I would take a couple of days off but would work the Saturday just to make up for those days.

"But the company said ‘if you need time off for all this stuff, just do it’."

Born in Victoria, Shane moved to Canberra 40 years ago.

"I’ve been here ever since," he says. "I always class it as home."

 

 

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Catching up

As the convoy rolled into the vacant land along Kate Grace Street in Gungahlin, we caught up with a couple of enthusiastic attendees in the form of Tony ‘Kiwi’ Jeffery and TruckSafe manager Justin Fleming. Both were wearing G&S Transport shirts.

Based in Karratha where he drives for G&S, Kiwi says he made the trip east to "see Justin for his birthday today".

"So this is how we’re celebrating, out with the community and all our mates we used to drive with," Justin adds.

"There’s a heap of them over here."

Kiwi and Justin have known each other for around three years. Justin flies over to the west a couple of times a year to drive road trains for G&S "to keep my eye in". A couple of weeks after the convoy, he was due to head west again for nine days of road train driving.

"Kiwi makes it all happen over there," Justin says.

"He’s like the big guru, he gets it all going."

Kiwi arrived in Australia in 1988, working out of Alice Springs for Kwikasair doing line-haul. Then it was nine years at Collins Transport, a couple with Freo Cranes, and the last five with G&S.

As for the Canberra Convoy for Cancer Families, Kiwi says "it’s awesome".

 

 

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In for the long haul

Dick Bates is a familiar face around Canberra and surrounding areas.

An owner-driver for 51 years, Dick is the father of champion Australian rally driver Neal Bates.

Dick started his road transport career in 1963 at the Readymix Quarry in Queanbeyan. He still works out of that quarry today, although his work is more varied these days.

"I worked for Readymix for 22 years, and then the unions came in and they kicked all the subbies out and put their own trucks on," Dick recalls.

"I’ve got a couple of blokes I work for now … Robertsons at Yass, Bald Hill Quarry at Jugiong and I cart sand for Elvin Group here."

Dick has been to every Canberra Convoy, although his truck was absent this year, sitting at Harden an hour and a half’s drive away.

"I’ve got a bike here today. The truck’s filthy dirty, and the bike was clean," he laughs.

Dick credits his longevity in the industry by working nine months of the year, and taking three months off "to get out of the cold".

"When I come back I’ve still got half a job around," he says.

"I’m only 73 — not at the retiring age yet, is it?" he ponders.

"While I can still do it, I’ll still do it."

 

 

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Canberra trophies

Best fleet: TJS Country Express

Best Mack: Elvin Group’s Mack Trident

Best Kenworth: Tony Innaimo Transport’s Kenworth T909

Best Freightliner: STM Transport’s Century Class

Best Volvo: Brema Group’s Volvo FM

Best Tipper: Schmidt Quarries

Best Rigid: ATS Transport

Best Western Star: Holcim

Truck of the Show: Tony Innaimo Transport’s Kenworth T909

 

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