In Pictures: 2015 Lights On The Hill

By: Greg Bush


That’s a lot of trucks. That’s a lot of trucks. That’s a lot of trucks.
Gavin Beckingham shows off his mountain climbing and photography skills. Gavin Beckingham shows off his mountain climbing and photography skills. Gavin Beckingham shows off his mountain climbing and photography skills.
The BP Archerfield, the starting point for the convoy’s Brisbane leg. The BP Archerfield, the starting point for the convoy’s Brisbane leg. The BP Archerfield, the starting point for the convoy’s Brisbane leg.
Gary ‘Simmo’ Simpson, left, and Reuben Harrap. Gary ‘Simmo’ Simpson, left, and Reuben Harrap. Gary ‘Simmo’ Simpson, left, and Reuben Harrap.
Remembering driver Greg Lipscombe. Remembering driver Greg Lipscombe. Remembering driver Greg Lipscombe.
Lights On The Hill patron John ‘The Ferret’ Moran OAM. Lights On The Hill patron John ‘The Ferret’ Moran OAM. Lights On The Hill patron John ‘The Ferret’ Moran OAM.
A 1988 B-Centennial Macken route to Gatton. A 1988 B-Centennial Macken route to Gatton. A 1988 B-Centennial Macken route to Gatton.
2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks9 2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks9
Daryl Dickinson Transport’s fleet. Daryl Dickinson Transport’s fleet. Daryl Dickinson Transport’s fleet.
A Nolan’s Transport Volvo arrives at the track. A Nolan’s Transport Volvo arrives at the track. A Nolan’s Transport Volvo arrives at the track.
Western Star and MAN merchandise for sale. Western Star and MAN merchandise for sale. Western Star and MAN merchandise for sale.
Siobhan Pearson. Siobhan Pearson. Siobhan Pearson.
The Nolan’s Transport sponsored Lights On The Hill trailers. The Nolan’s Transport sponsored Lights On The Hill trailers. The Nolan’s Transport sponsored Lights On The Hill trailers.
Rocky’s Own Transport is a Lights On The Hill regular. Rocky’s Own Transport is a Lights On The Hill regular. Rocky’s Own Transport is a Lights On The Hill regular.
Big paddock for a big line-up. Big paddock for a big line-up. Big paddock for a big line-up.
Gavin ‘Boots’ Beckingham. Gavin ‘Boots’ Beckingham. Gavin ‘Boots’ Beckingham.
Remembering the late Adam Prendergast. Remembering the late Adam Prendergast. Remembering the late Adam Prendergast.
The view from the top of the Emerald Haulage Kenworth. The view from the top of the Emerald Haulage Kenworth. The view from the top of the Emerald Haulage Kenworth.
Packed in tight. Packed in tight. Packed in tight.
John Motley. John Motley. John Motley.
That’s one menacing Cat. That’s one menacing Cat. That’s one menacing Cat.
Bruce Robinson and his daughter Stephanie. Bruce Robinson and his daughter Stephanie. Bruce Robinson and his daughter Stephanie.
Adam Mitchell with son Lachlan. Adam Mitchell with son Lachlan. Adam Mitchell with son Lachlan.
2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks25 2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks25
Rob Knuckey drove a K S Easter Western Star. Rob Knuckey drove a K S Easter Western Star. Rob Knuckey drove a K S Easter Western Star.
2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks27 2015 Lights on the Hill TradeTrucks27
Live music kept the crowd entertained all the day and into the night. Live music kept the crowd entertained all the day and into the night. Live music kept the crowd entertained all the day and into the night.
Wickham Freight Lines were spotted among the crowd. Wickham Freight Lines were spotted among the crowd. Wickham Freight Lines were spotted among the crowd.

This year’s Lights On The Hill convoy was the biggest and best on record, with the organisers overwhelmed with the support it received from both the trucking industry and the general public. Greg Bush writes

 

This year’s Lights On The Hill convoy was special in more ways than one. For starters, the number of trucks taking part in the February 28 event was tallied at 785 which, according to organisers, set a new record with around 200 more than last year.

Second, the convoy had a new destination — the roomy Gatton Racecourse.

It was also the first time that veteran trucking identity John ‘The Ferret’ Moran OAM, a patron of Lights Of The Hill since day one, had ridden in one of the convoy’s trucks.

To top it off, The Ferret was up in the lead truck, riding shotgun for former Lights On The Hill president Gary ‘Simmo’ Simpson in a Kenworth T601.

"I’ve been associated with this convoy ever since it started 12 years ago," The Ferret says.

Lights On The Hill patron John ‘The Ferret’ Moran OAM.

"But this is the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to ride in the convoy. I’ve either been at one end or the other.

"This year we’re invited guests, me and Margo [partner Margaret Zanetta]. She’s in the gold one over there," The Ferret says, before the convoy set out from the BP Archerfield in Brisbane, bound for Gatton along the Warrego Highway.

The ‘gold one’ was Geoff Richardson Refrigerated Transport’s Western Star 4900FXT, driven by Reuben Harrap. The truck was brand new, Reuben explaining that there was "not a touch of grease on the turntable yet".

"It lobbed in the yard yesterday afternoon, so it will probably go to work on Monday or Tuesday," Rueben says.

Coincidentally, Simmo is a former driver for Geoff Richardson.

"When I first started, Geoff had three trucks," he says.

"He’s got about 45 now," Reuben adds, who was enjoying his second year in a row in the Lights On The Hill convoy.

Many of the trucks bore banners, paying tribute to drivers who have passed away. Another of Richardson Transport’s Western Star commemorated the life of driver Greg Lipscombe who died in 2007.

"Geoff has only lost the one driver," Gary says. "He’s had very few accidents".

Gary says grabbing ‘pole position’ in the westbound convoy came about by accident. Before the event, he had sought out Lights On The Hill president Kerry Wilkins with the suggestion that The Ferret should ride in the lead truck.

Kerry agreed, suggesting Gary’s truck should fill that position.

"I said ‘piss off, I’d have to get it washed and polished’," Gary laughs.

"I’ve always kept it clean, but it did really need a good polish up.

"I ended up agreeing and I went to Big Boys, and they offered to spruce it all up for me at a reasonable price. I let them have it and they went to town."

Despite its age, Gary’s 1998 10th anniversary T601 scrubbed up well.

"It looks good for its age," he says. "It’s got a few cosmetic blemishes of course; I think it had a two owners before me and they looked after it pretty well."

 

2015,-Lights -on -the -Hill ,-Trade Trucks 16

Big numbers

As the twin convoys converged on Gatton, with hundreds of spectators cheering along the route, it soon became apparent this would be a big day.

The Toowoomba convoy arrived first, driving through the Lockyer Valley town at around 10:30am.

The Brisbane convoy arrived shortly after, although the large number of participating trucks forced the authorities to split it in two due to traffic concerns.

Hence, trucks were still filtering into the Gatton Racecourse at 1:30pm.

One notable convoy absentee was Kerry Wilkins himself. Along with the majority of the Lights On The Hill committee, his presence was required at the new venue.

"I’m not allowed to drive in the convoy anymore; I’ve got to be on the ground so people have got someone to yell at," Kerry laughs.

"Since I’ve been president, I fly a mate and his missus down from Mackay to drive my truck."

Kerry admits to being a little nervous about the weather a couple of days before the big day. Although a ramp had been set up at the racecourse to cross over the track proper, he was concerned about the trucks causing damage to the turf.

"We got 12mm on the Thursday night, about 2 o’clock in the morning, and as soon as I heard the thunder I got out of bed and went and curled up in the foetal position in the corner," he jokes.

Kerry, however, had no cause for concern as the day was bathed in sunshine, although he admits there were a few hiccups with the new venue, including queues to entrances and exits.

But he says the Lockyer Valley Regional Council (LBRC) is keen to rectify any issues. In particular, Kerry was appreciative of the efforts of LBRC mayor Steve Jones in embracing the event.

"He’s a truckie tragic," he says. "He’s been tremendous, and in fact the LBRC, you couldn’t ask for better support.

"But the whole thing was just a credit to the truck drivers. For the amount of trucks, and most of them only got in on Friday night, it was incredible."

 

2015,-Lights -on -the -Hill ,-Trade Trucks 29 

Community support

Kerry also thanked community groups who helped out, including the police cadets who were busy selling much-needed bottles of water and soft drinks to the parched crowd.

"They volunteered their time and came up and helped us out with the parking and that. It’s all about breaking down the barriers," Kerry continues.

"They go through the cadet school and they listen to the media and hear we’re a lot of drugged-out crack heads or whatever it is.

"Every year we get a new lot of cadets through and some of them, if they do hit the road they hit it with the right attitude. They know we’re not bad blokes, we’re just family men trying to earn a living for our families."

The day stretched into night at the racecourse as the entertainment ran until midnight. Artists performing live on stage included Adam Brand, McAlister Kemp, Jayne Denham, Paul Costa, Tanya Self, Jeff Brown, and Kerry Kennedy and Double Barrel.

"The bar closed at 12, and everybody went to the campsite or to their truck," Kerry says. "From what I hear, quite a few partied on until 4 o’clock in the morning, including our artists."

Monies raised from the event are still being tallied and will go to various charity and community groups around the Lockyer Valley and other areas of south-east Queensland who helped out, including the Brisbane Coast Guard and CareFlight, as well as maintenance of the Lights On The Hill memorial wall in Gatton’s Lake Apex Park.

 

 

Gavin shows off his mountain climbing and photography skills.

Bird’s eye view

When we caught up with Emerald Haulage driver Gavin ‘Boots’ Beckingham, he was busy testing the cab strength of the company’s Kenworth T908.

More precisely, Gavin was scaling the bonnet and roof of the Kenworth to take a few panoramic photos of the event. Sensing an opportunity, we also handed him our camera.

Gavin explains that, despite the name, Emerald Haulage is based at Oakey on the Darling Downs.

"We’ve still got a depot in Emerald, but we’re based out of Oakey now. Emerald’s too cold," he laughs.

Gavin drove the T908 down from Toowoomba, this being his second appearance in the Lights On The Hill convoy. His first was five years ago but work commitments have kept him away until this year. Now, he was amazed at how the event has grown.

"Having it at the racecourse is a very good idea; a very good move," he says.

A banner displaying the name and image of Adam Paul ‘Prendo’ Prendergast hung in front of the T908’s grille.

"He was a mate of mine who was driving for Porters Transport," Gavin explains.

"He died in ’08 coming down the range.

"He was one of the young fellas coming through, and one of the ones who has given his life for the trucking industry.

"Another one," he adds. "There’s too many of them."

 

 

John Motley.

Classic Kenworth

John Motley had always intended to show off his 1970 W model Kenworth, and what better place than the 2015 Lights On The Hill convoy.

"I’ve always wanted to come here, but never got here," John says.

"I thought I’ll pull her off the road and take a couple of days off to polish her up.

"It’s a good day; and it’s good weather for it."

John bought the Kenworth 10 years ago, and has built it up from scratch, including a replacement motor and gearbox.

With its black finish, the truck is an attention seeker, but it’s more notable for its Cat engine related artwork.

Originally from Tasmania, he pulled the Kenworth apart and shipped it across Bass Strait.

"The bonnet, the cab and the bunk and all that, my mate down there painted it with a paintbrush," he says.

"I didn’t even know how it was going to come back."

With the W model looking the goods, John and his wife Cyndie set up their own business last October — CJM Transport.

 

 

Siobhan Pearson.

Corporate support

With the Lights On The Hill convoy moving to the new destination of the Gatton racecourse, the extra space gave transport-related businesses a specific area to showcase their wares.

However, Gateway Express Truck & Car Wash, located alongside the Gateway Motorway near Nudgee, was also doing its duty in helping to raise funds for charity.

Gateway Express business development and marketing manager Siobhan Pearson says for every driver who arrives at the truck wash holding a Lights On The Hill key ring, the company will dedicate part of its proceeds to the cause.

"It won’t just be a one-off contribution, it’s a long-term one because it’s helping those families and helping the community," Siobhan says.

"That’s very important for us as well.

"We’re all part of the industry and it’s important that we all contribute.

In addition, Gateway Express was offering free truck washes for those who left their business card during the day.

"We’ve seen a few of our drivers come through and they’re all very happy, it’s great," Siobhan says. "It’s a terrific turnout."

 

 

Bruce Robinson and his daughter Stephanie.

Bring on the music

The 2015 Lights On The Hill convoy was an eye opener for Bruce Robinson. His only other appearance at the event was as a spectator.

This time however, he arrived in a 2007 Western Star Constellation 4900 with his daughter Stephanie.

"I drive it for my boss, Chris Bastow," Bruce says.

"We’re at Dinmore, next door to the Dinmore meat works. We do mud carting around town, and earthmovers."

Bruce explains that Stephanie would do the occasional trip with him during interstate runs years ago, but with access restrictions on work sites in his current job, that’s no longer possible.

Stephanie, however, was more interested in watching the live music, especially Adam Brand, while Bruce was keen on seeing Jayne Denham.

"They’ve got a good line-up this year," he adds.

"I reckon they’ve done a good job setting it up the way they have, with the amount of trucks that were turning up.

"When we were coming in the gate, they said there were 300 just behind us."

 

 

Rob Knuckey drove a K S Easter Western Star.

Real men’s truck

The fleet of K S Easter had a fine fleet of Kenworth trucks lined up at the Gatton Racecourse, with one exception — a Western Star driven by Rob Knuckey.

"I was the lucky one who drew the Western Star today," Rob grins.

"Real men drive Western Stars."

Rob, who brought along his young daughter Haylee, was making his third appearance at the Lights On The Hill event, although it was his first driving in the convoy.

Like many, he was impressed with the huge turnout of trucks, and the roomier location compared to the Gatton Sportsground in previous years.

"This one is heaps bigger, it accommodates the trucks a lot easier, and there’s definitely a lot more parking, and it’s a bit safer."

 

 

Adam Mitchell with son Lachlan.

Name on the wall

Although based in Brisbane, Adam Mitchell arrived in a Kenworth K108 belonging to Kerden Haulage, of Nowra in New South Wales.

Adam says Kerdens had 19 trucks in the fleet, two of which took part in the convoy.

"We haul anything, scrap metal, general freight, and we’ve got tippers," he says.

Like a few other drivers present, Adam has been to a few Lights On The Hill convoys, but this was his first as a driver.

"It’s good, it’s brilliant," he exclaims.

Adam’s son Lachlan rode in the K108 to Gatton and, like all kids his age, loves trucks. But there will be no career in trucking for Lachlan.

"Not if I’ve got anything to do with it," Adam laughs.

More seriously, Adam says the main reason for his involvement in the convoy is that his late father, John Mitchell, has a plaque on the Lights On The Hill Memorial wall.

 

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook