Former Wooreen teacher Rob Hunter (right) thanks Robin Smith (left). Pic: Rob Hunter
Former Wooreen teacher Rob Hunter (right) thanks Robin Smith (left). Pic: Rob Hunter

Hero truckie of 1977 kidnapping honoured for bravery

IN 1977, truck driver Robin Smith was taken hostage by Edwin John Eastwood, a man on the run from prison who had kidnapped a young teacher and nine students.

Teacher Rob Hunter and the students were taken from Wooreen Primary School at gunpoint and chained to the back of a covered ute.

When Eastwood drove off, he collided with a timber truck driven by Robin and took him hostage too.

Another truck driver and his passenger, who had stopped to assist, were also abducted, as were the occupants of a Kombi van who also stopped.

The 16 hostages were taken to a bush camp and tied up for the night, but Robin managed to free himself and fled to a farmhouse to call the police.

In the morning, Eastwood began to move the hostages, but police found him, overpowered and arrested him.

Now, more than 40 years later, Robin has been honoured for his actions with a Commendation for Brave Conduct in today’s national bravery awards announced by Governor-General David Hurley.

The Herald Sun reported that Mr Smith, now 68 and a semi-retired opal miner in Lightning Ridge in northwest NSW, said the events altered his life forever.

“It did change things. You get a different view on the world. Not a day goes past when you don’t think about it in some way.”

Mr Hunter said Robin was a hero.

He told the Herald Sun: “He risked his life to save us all. I get shivers up and down my spine whenever I say it. He would have taken a bullet for us for sure.’’

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