EVERY November for the past 23 years, the Victorian country town of Castlemaine has staged one of the best truck shows to grace this country.
A fundraiser for the local rotary club, the show grows by the year, attracting an ever increasing number of Pride and Polish entrants - 139 this year - and other truckies who just want to be part of the action.
The quality of the show is reflected by where the trucks come from: Jon Kelly's Heavy Haulage Australia was represented by six of his best.
His latest T908 Tri Drive - the biggest truck in Oz and rated at 300 tons, GCM, was brought direct from Darwin by driver Dave Pancino.
Together with Jon's baby 'The Majestic' and other beasts, HHA made a stunning centrepiece for the weekend. HHA also supplied caps for the gathered throng.
When asked why such a commitment (which this writer would put at anything up to $50,000) to a show so far away from home, Jon's reply was a simple: "I love it! We've been a supporter since we first came here in 2006. In that year we had no idea how good it would be and we've come back every year since. It attracts some great calibre trucks which is good competition for us and good for the industry. So we migrate down here for the weekend and try and promote the event. It also shows the public the best of the industry."
Adtrans was the major sponsor of the show after the sudden and very late withdrawal of support by another trucking media outlet.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the most popular truck on Australian roads was Peterbilt; there were so many in attendance.
From The Majestic to tow trucks to highway haulers - the "King of Beasts" was everywhere.
American Truckworks brought three across from Adelaide.
Sales manager Steve Ottoway was justifiably proud of the company's product.
"They're all fully insulated, double fire-walled, double railed and totally ADR compliant - and I mean every nut, bolt and light has to be approved by Canberra," he said.
"We love the product and saw a market gap. With the Oz dollar going gangbusters they are certainly not out of the equation on price and the purchaser is getting the Rolls-Royce of trucks."
Robbie Adams was driving the Truck Factory's heavy recovery Peterbilt. A snip at $640,000 - the paint job alone was $70,000.
With rain early on the Saturday, the chamois were in abundance and more than one was being handled by a lady.
Karlie Gavin was told by her man that "it will be a fantastic weekend" - "and here I am in all my glory washing a truck! Guess who'll be doing the housework next week," she laughed.
Western Star had their Starlight Foundation truck on display - a visible case of the industry giving back, as are all the Triple R Waste Management vehicles.
Young Aaron Vanderschoot was spied rubbing the chrome
on the Megatip Mack Trident.
"I trained as a truck mechanic but always wanted to drive. When I got my licence no-one would give me a job until I came across Tony Howe of Howe Haulage who also owns Megatip," he said.
"Tony gave me a go and the least I can do is repay his faith by looking after my rig."
One of Aaron's mates pipes up: "He's bloody there at 3am washing the thing. Makes the rest of us look bad!"
The Rig of the Day for Saturday was won by Craig Membrey and his stunning Kenworth - a rolling shrine to his son, Rowan who tragically took in own life last March aged 17.
Craig has put his lot in with Beyond Blue and is actively promoting this worthy organisation with his truck and in any other way he can.
"If I talk openly about depression and promote Beyond Blue then maybe I'll help save a life. If I do that then Rowan's death won't have been in vain," he said.
Big Rigs will carry a feature on Craig in an upcoming issue.
With categories for various makes of truck there were plenty of smiling winners on the Sunday.
Jon Kelly walked away with three awards but the Rig of the Show went to Shane Kelly of SDR Transport and his Western Star.
Put Castlemaine on your calendar for next November. Great trucks, great music and a great camaraderie. As the ad says, "You BE There!"
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