Inspiring tenacity: The Mathie family

By: Tamara Whitsed


Quinten Mathie with his 2014 Western Star 4800FXB which carts fuel in New South Wales. Quinten Mathie with his 2014 Western Star 4800FXB which carts fuel in New South Wales. Quinten Mathie with his 2014 Western Star 4800FXB which carts fuel in New South Wales.
Phillip Mathie’s restored 1960 Mustang MC22. He is well known among White Truck enthusiasts. Phillip Mathie’s restored 1960 Mustang MC22. He is well known among White Truck enthusiasts. Phillip Mathie’s restored 1960 Mustang MC22. He is well known among White Truck enthusiasts.
Phillip’s 1964 Mustang 4200. Phillip’s 1964 Mustang 4200. Phillip’s 1964 Mustang 4200.
Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT5 The Mathie family. Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT5
Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT6 One of Bruce Mathie and Sons’ four Western Stars. All have Cummins engines. Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT6
Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT7 The company’s first Western Star, a Cheyenne 4800, was purchased in 1984. Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT7
Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT8 Quinten and Phillip in 1995. Aged nine, Quinten already had plans to follow in his father’s footsteps. Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT8
Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT9 Left: John Mathie began the logging and transport tradition with a bullock team. Right: Bruce Mathie. Mathie family Phillip Mathie TT9

Phillip Mathie lost his sight in 2010 but he hasn’t lost his passion for the logging industry or his pride in the family business. Tamara Whitsed visits him near Narooma, NSW

Inspiring tenacity: The Mathie family
Phillip and Jenny Mathie at Dalmeny.

 

The Mathie family has been involved with the logging industry since the bullocky era, and today runs a fleet of Cummins-powered Western Stars from Dalmeny near Narooma on New South Wales’ south coast.

Bruce Mathie and Sons’ four Western Stars cart hardwood logs between Batemans Bay, Sydney, Eden, Goulburn, Cooma and Wagga Wagga.

"I’m the third generation," says Phillip Mathie, 63, who left school to snig timber when he was 14.

Today Phillip and his brothers Stewart and Kevin are directors of the company which employs 11 people. (A fourth brother, Gill Mathie, was involved with the business up until 2006.)

Phillip is widely admired for his determination to continue working after he lost his sight.

"It’s five years this Christmas since I went totally blind," he says. His blindness is due to anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (AION).

The condition is caused when blood flow to the optic nerve is disrupted.

While it more commonly causes partial blindness, Phillip is unlucky that it has affected both eyes and did not respond to treatment.

A simple philosophy helps Phillip lead a rewarding life without sight: "Just come to work and keep at it."

With help from family, he continues his role as part of the management team at Bruce Mathie and Sons.

"I’m still coming in every day," he says.

Born in 1951, Phillip was 14 when he left school to work in the bush with his father.

He spent the early part of his career operating logging machinery, then drove log trucks from the early 1980s until his vision deteriorated in 2010.

"I stopped driving in the March and completely lost my eyesight in the December."

Now he relies on his wife Jenny for transport.

"She [Jenny] brings me to work every morning a bit after seven and picks me up at about five in the evening."

Phillip misses truck driving but keeps busy working in the office and talking on the phone with customers and suppliers.

"I go over to the workshop and order parts and things like that."

When he needs help, he calls on his son Quinten, his brothers or employees.

 

Mathie ,-family ,-Phillip -Mathie ,-TT8

 

Bullock team

The Mathie family’s logging history dates back to about 1920 when Phillip’s grandfather John Mathie operated a team of bullocks around Wandandian near Nowra, NSW.

"He used to fell the trees and take the logs into the mill with the bullock team."

Phillip’s father Bruce Mathie also used bullocks for logging before he bought his first bulldozer.

Bruce carted logs with a White Super Power in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

And in the 1960s Bruce built up a milk transport business with seven trucks — mostly Internationals.

The milk contract ended in the mid-1970s.

The business specialised in log harvesting and snigging up until 1980 when Bruce passed away.

Bruce’s sons continue to trade as Bruce Mathie and Sons in honour of his memory.

In the early 1980s the brothers ventured into log cartage with a White Road Boss.

White Motor Corporation had ceased production by 1983 when the Mathies were ready to buy another truck.

 

Mathie ,-family ,-Phillip -Mathie ,-TT9

 

Western Stars

"We chased around and found out that Terry Peabody was going to import Western Stars," Phillip says.

Mathies ordered a Western Star Cheyenne 4800 from the newly established Western Star Trucks Australia. They took possession in 1984 and Phillip says the company has been loyal to Western Star and Cummins "100 per cent ever since".

Today Bruce Mathie and Sons owns a 1999 Constellation 4900EX, 2004 Constellation 4900EX, 2006 4800 Constellation and 2010 4800 Constellation.

Phillip is well known among White truck enthusiasts as the owner of two beautifully restored Mustangs.

He bought the yellow 1960 Mustang MC22 from Kyabram in 1986 and imported the green 1964 Mustang 4200 from the United States in 2007.

He likes Mustangs because they are similar to the White Super Power his father owned.

"They would have been high quality trucks in their day. The White had a great name."

Phillip is glad his two Mustangs have been preserved for future generations to enjoy.

"People will never ever see anything like that. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. The engineering and workmanship — it’s just unbelievable."

 

Mathie ,-family ,-Phillip -Mathie ,-TT2

 

Fourth Generation

Since childhood, Quinten Mathie was determined to follow his father Phillip Mathie into the logging industry.

Today the 29-year-old continues the family tradition, representing a fourth generation of logging Mathies.

Trading as QB Mathie he runs four trucks and subcontracts for Bruce Mathie and Sons.

"I spent every moment I could around the workshop and in the trucks with Dad," Quinten says, reflecting on his childhood.

He also enjoyed travelling into the bush with the late Merv Bruest, a long-term employee of Bruce Mathie and Sons.

After completing an apprenticeship as a diesel fitter with Cummins at Queanbeyan, Quinten returned to Dalmeny in 2006 to maintain trucks and cart logs for Bruce Mathie and Sons.

He was only 23 when he bought his own rig — a new 2009 Kenworth 908 with a Kennedy Mini B folding skel trailer.

"Bruce Mathie and Sons hold the contract for the log haulage and QB Mathie subbies to them," Quinten says.

Since then QB Mathie has added a 2010 Freightliner Argosy, 2014 Western Star 4800FXB and 1997 Western Star Heritage 4900 to the fleet.

He has also diversified into fuel and pulls tankers along the NSW coast.

QB Mathie employs six people and Quinten says bookkeeping assistance from his wife Tennealle Robinson-Mathie makes it possible to manage the business while still driving trucks himself.

He also appreciates help from his father Phillip Mathie who has taught him the importance of respect, honesty and reliability in business.

Quinten accepts the challenges of the trucking industry.

"If you can’t get the right money to do the job, it’s not worth doing it. And if you can’t run good gear to do the job, it’s not worth having."

The Mathie family celebrated Quinten and Tennealle’s wedding at Narooma on October 31. The couple’s three young daughters were flower girls and the bridal party arrived in Mathie trucks.

Quinten is optimistic about the future of the industry and says he wouldn’t discourage his daughters from continuing the family’s transport tradition into a fifth generation.

 

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