SOMEWHAT surprisingly the Castlemaine Truck Show was the brainchild of two women.
Lil and Marie White started the show 26 years ago as a means of raising funds to sponsor Marie in the Miss Australia quest, run by what was then called the Spastic Society.
From humble beginnings, the show quickly grew to the point where three or so years down the track it was too big for them to handle.
At this time they went to the local Rotary club, who took on the event. Today the Castlemaine Truck Show raises tens of thousands of dollars for charity.
This year 200 drivers showed their trucks, with 150 of the vehicles registered for the various category awards.
Geoff Brown (without an E, because his parents couldn't afford one) arrived with a White, painted in eye-catching blue.
"No one who's seen it recognises it as the same truck I've owned for years," Geoff said of his truck, which has been repainted in the past 12 months.
"I came in here today, no bull, and 10 people asked me to stop while they took photos. This is a bling truck show, as you know, and people wanted to take a photo of this old banger. Made me feel pretty good."
Geoff bought his goddaughter Casey Haigh along because she likes trucks cars and bikes.
"She also makes me look good," he said.
Ricky and Monica Tulloch were at the truck show with the '92 Kenworth T600 that they have owned for 12 months.
Now 42, Ricky has been driving trucks since he was 18. Going out on his own was a big step, with house payments and all the other associated costs of life.
"We bought the truck outright for $60,000 with a new motor - an N14 Select, which relieves a lot of pressure.
"We had a budget and we stuck to it. We bought something we could afford."
Ricky's job as a truckie is a little different from the norm. He carts staging and equipment around Australia for Graham Collins and his company Show Freight.
Perth, Darwin, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and many places in between are part of Ricky's daily/weekly/monthly routine.
"I walked in off the street, cold turkey to Graham, put my case forward and he hired me. I've never let him down and he's done the right thing by me. After only 12 months we have a relationship where I believe he sees me as a son, not just a number. It's a fantastic business and personal relationship."
In 12 months he has 'toured' with Big Day Out, Soundwave, Pink, Kate Ceberano, Katie Perry, Guy Sebastian, Miley Cyrus, Bon Jovi and Nitro Circus.
"Every artist I've worked for has given me something of a personal nature in way of thanks for the job I do for them," he said.
Ricky's memento cupboard must be looking pretty good.
Prior to this gig, Ricky was, and still is, a carer for Monica, who has been battling the MS for 14 years.
"I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000. It was a shock at the time but I've learned to live with it. What choice do I have?" Monica said.
The couple has been together for 13 years and married for the past 10. Ricky knew what he was getting into when he married Monica.
"I judged Monica for the person she was, not the disease she had.
"MS was part of the package and I wouldn't swap our lives together for anything."
Castlemaine has also grown in the number of trucking ancillary displays over the years.
Brian Marsden owns Truck Bits, with outlets in Kilsyth and Dandenong. One would think that would keep him busy.
But Brian knows a good product when he sees it. Zephyr is an American-made range of cleaning products and when Brian tried it he decided it was best product he had ever come across.
It didn't take long for him to become the Australian importer.
"We sell online at truckbitsaust.com.au, or over the counter.
"We did a lot of research and I reckon it's the best I've come across. We carry 70 lines in the Zephyr Pro Series Products range."
Brian's showpiece at Castlemaine was not a truck, but rather an XW GT Falcon (originally a Fairmont, admits owner Gary). If trucks can shine like the GT did, we reckon Brian is onto a good thing. Gary obviously loves his GT.
"I've just bought a new bottle. The last one lasted me 18 months, and I do it every week," Gary said.
Shane and Helen Imlach run their business, Art of Steel n Stuff, from their Mirboo home in Victoria. The pair laser cut trucks (and other stuff) out of 2mm mild steel.
"I like doing it. I won't die a millionaire but we're doing okay," Shane said.
One of the smaller trucks will set you back about $160, ranging up to $2000, give or take, for the double gates pictured.
This is not just a Kenworth or a Mack cut out of metal. It is your Kenworth or Mack. That's right, you supply the photo and Shane and Helen will turn it into a work of art to adorn your wall, your shed, or even better, the gates to your property.
Helen draws up the picture from photographs, to a black-and-white rendition. It is sent back to the client for approval and then Shane works his magic with the laser cutter.
Being your truck, we reckon a good accountant could put it down to advertising and make those gates tax deductible.
Art of Steel n Stuff can be contacted on 0414 786 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also on Facebook.
Troy, Wayne and Rick Cornwill are a fixture at Castlemaine, having supported the show for 20 years.
A weekend away in grandpa's 75-year-old tent for the boys and their staff, they are always ready to hand a drink or a chop from the barbecue to anyone who drops by for a yak.
"We were a bit worried it wasn't going to be on this year," said Troy.
In a word of advice to the (relatively new) organisers, he added; "Normally we get info in the mail months before the event.
"We got a flyer just two weeks ago. Just the flyer. No registration papers as in past years. You have to plan for a weekend like this.
"We all have jobs and businesses to run. You can't drop everything at the last moment. We like to prepare the truck way in advance. We might change this or that, add a couple of things on, which all takes time.
"The current crop aren't as welcoming as Russ (Timmins), Doug (Parsons) and Thommo (Keith Thompson) were.
"The new order would do well to take a leaf out of their book. It isn't just us, there's been plenty of talk around the traps.
"We all come to have a good time and support a worthy event. We will continue to come but ask for a little bit of respect in return."
These sentiments were echoed from numerous quarters over the weekend. Addressing these niggles will ensure that Castlemaine continues to grow and remains one of the premier trucking events in the country.
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