New plaques installed on Tassie truckies memorial wall
IN ITS second year, the 2016 commemoration of the Tassie Truckies Memorial Wall included the installation of 35 new plaques.
Held on January 17 at the Caltex Truck Stop at Epping Forest, the event saw 25 of Tasmania's finest rigs, immaculately detailed and polished, lined up around the perimeter to honour departed comrades commemorated on the wall.
It was a warm day but there was adequate shade beneath the large marquee.
A crowd of about 600 people was entertained with live music and entertainment from Matthew Garwood, famous as the Tattooed Tenor from The Voice.
There was a lolly scramble, face painting and a jumping castle for the children and there were stalls including Tazzie Toyz and Collectibles, wall merchandise and Fancy Faces applied temporary tattoos.
The crowd was addressed by Tony Whitehouse, committee president, with a brief introduction that acknowledged the hard work of Tristan Cass and past committee members, and all those who have worked so hard to get the project off the ground and to where it is today.
The MC, Chris Leonard, then introduced and thanked Mr Whitehouse and the committee, Samantha Hardy, Jono Price and Adam Hodgetts, and thanked the many volunteers as well as contributors of time, effort and materials.
He welcomed the special guests including Bette Phillips from the Victorian Truck Drivers Memorial Wall, Liz Martin from the Australian National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, and Keith Woods from the White Hill Memorial Wall near Murray Bridge in South Australia.
Michael Geeves from the Epping Forest Caltex roadhouse gave a small address on behalf of the roadhouse and his crew, emphasising the number of people who had been observed calling in and quietly spending a little time at the wall paying their respects to their loved ones
Bette Phillips, who has fully supported the wall since its inception, offered her sympathies to those who had just placed plaques on the wall.
She emphasised the need for a place where all could remember their loved ones, a special place that diminished their feeling of isolation.
She spoke of the contribution made to the development of the state and nation by the road transport industry and the practical, hard-working men and women who often worked in the harshest of conditions and away from their families, so often unappreciated and ignored.
Liz Martin, who had flown down for the occasion, spoke wisely of the incidence of accidents and industry related deaths from health issues such as diabetes and heart attack, and made a passionate case for the improvement of roads and working conditions right across Australia.
She also congratulated those who had made the wall a reality, and of the need, right across Australia, for such memorial walls to give the families a place to grieve and remember their loved ones.
Local member Eric Hutchinson M.H.R. for Lyons discussed the need for better roads to reduce the incidence of trucking fatalities, and spoke of funding currently being put into roads and infrastructure in Tasmania.
Carly Peck read a moving poem in honour of truck drivers and those being remembered on the day.
Peter Garwood, a Chaplain from Prospect and father of Matthew Garwood, revealed his background and involvement in the industry and his close relationship to it today, as well as offering counselling to anyone requiring it.
He then offered a sincere and moving prayer in honour of all the deceased and blessed the wall and all those present.
There followed a number of moving tributes from family members and friends of those commemorated on the wall this year.
A minute's silence was observed, at the end of which Sean Hinds and Robbie Crossin with almost military precision synchronised the lowering of the two ensigns and the lone piper, Craig Kooper from Launceston, played an emotive Amazing Grace.
Then families and friends of those commemorated picked up tribute roses and placed them in front of their respective plaques.
- John Wallis