Chris Kates (treasurer), Tristan Cass (president), Tony Whitehouse (vice-president), Mark Badcock (secretary).
Chris Kates (treasurer), Tristan Cass (president), Tony Whitehouse (vice-president), Mark Badcock (secretary). Contributed

Memorial wall is a fitting tribute to Tassie truckies

ACROSS Australia almost every town or village has a memorial of some kind.

In Tasmania, virtually every seaside town has a memorial to those who worked the sea, in particular for lost fishermen.

Some are quite simple, some are elaborate.

But for the truck drivers of this land, there have been few memorials erected, few places for families and friends to come and meditate, and to feel closer to their loved ones, dedicated men who have made our country/state what it is.

Well, a while back, some good drivers started talking about the erection of a memorial wall here in Tasmania to commemorate all those drivers who have been killed in accidents, or died at home or elsewhere.

This required a lot of research, from finding and securing a site central for all, to designing the wall.

After four years of sometimes painful discussion and effort, it is a great credit to Tristan Cass, Tony Whitehouse and Mark Babcock, to see their hard work and efforts come to fruition.

It was a hugely emotional, and superbly-organised, cutting of the ribbon by Bob Hadley on Sunday, January 18.

A crowd estimated at about 1500 attended the ceremony.

To honour the event, some of the finest rigs in Tasmania, some 21 trucks, all immaculately detailed for the occasion, lined the venue's perimeter.

Carparking was well organised, including in the field beyond the Epping Forest Truckstop and Roadhouse.

Like all well-organised events, everything had been carefully thought out, from entertainment for the children, to the Tautliner stage. There were musicians, a sausage sizzle, and a merchandise stall.

The crowd was addressed by president Tristan Cass, with secretary Mark Badcock, vice-president Tony Whitehouse and treasurer Chris Kates representing the Wall committee.

Tristan spoke briefly about the Wall, thanking the many volunteers and contributors for their time and material, and then the guests were introduced.

Bette Phillips, Family Support GriefWork from the Victorian Truck Drivers Committee, came to lend support to the day and address the gathering.

Then Michael George from Mitre 10, Longford, who donated so much material and assistance, spoke.

He was followed by Eric Hutchinson, MHR for Lyons, who made reference to there being 65,000 truck drivers registered in Tasmania.

Doug Whitehouse read a moving poem in honour of all truck drivers, then Bob Hadley, the owner of the Epping Forest site, made a fine address, before proceeding to cut the ribbon.

He was followed by the Reverend Warwick Cuthbertson from the Anglican Church of Holy Trinity in Launceston, who offered a prayer in honour of all the deceased and blessed the wall.

And finally Des Taylor from the Tasmanian Truck Owners Association, addressed all the truck drivers present on matters of importance to them and the industry, with regard to safety issues, fatigue and regulations and common sense.

A minute's silence then was observed.

This was followed by the families and friends of those commemorated on the wall picking up a floral tribute, and, in an orderly manner, placing these in the wall beside the name plaque of their loved one.

This took place while a lone Piper played Amazing Grace.

The site at the southern end of the Epping Forest Caltex Truckstop is well presented and centrally located.

There are a number of fine, big, old gums, and a number of other trees, providing shade, making it a pleasant place to come and quietly remember loved ones.

Tristan Cass informs us that the service will be an annual event, to be held on the same weekend as this year' ceremony.

Plaques will continue to be added to the wall.

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