Wickham Freight Lines newest Kenworth.
Wickham Freight Lines newest Kenworth. Contributed

Only the 'toughest truck on the planet' for Wickhams

IF YOU ask Wickham Freight Lines director Graham Keogh how to describe a Kenworth, he doesn't hesitate in labelling the truck "the toughest on the planet”.

So it's no surprise the family-owned and operated business - which every day travels a distance equal to two and a half times the circumference of Earth and specialises in refrigerated transport, farm produce transport, general freight transport and the transport of fresh, chilled and frozen meat - favours the legendary Australian truck.

Now the iconic Warwick business has achieved an astonishing feat not many other Australian businesses have reached, adding its 250th Kenworth to its already large fleet.

Wickham Freight Lines director Darren Eather said it was a huge occasion to celebrate.

"We're the second family business in Australia that's reached this milestone.”

He said there were a few things that attracted the business to Kenworths.

"Mostly it's the total cost of ownership and the reliability of customer service they give us,” he said.

"The total cost of life is a big thing, and reliability for our customers.”

While he said European model trucks had more technology, the Kenworth still attracted quality drivers.

Celebrating the 250th Kenworth are (from left) Graham Keogh, Darren Eather, Andrew Hadjikakov, Peter Wickham, Haydn Lamb, Donna Keogh and Kerri-Ann Lamb.
Celebrating the 250th Kenworth are (from left) Graham Keogh, Darren Eather, Andrew Hadjikakov, Peter Wickham, Haydn Lamb, Donna Keogh and Kerri-Ann Lamb. Contributed

"It's like a legend of the industry,” he said.

"They're always making them better and better. The old ones were just a seat and a steering wheel, but now there are more creature comforts.”

The new truck was handed over by Brown and Hurley at a celebration in mid-April.

Darren said the relationship between Wickhams and Brown and Hurley was also celebrated.

"We've been fortunate enough to get each one-thousandth truck they've sold, and this is the 13th-thousandth,” he said.

"We also took delivery of the 60-thousandth Kenworth made in Australia earlier this year.”

Brown and Hurley joint managing director Rob Brown, who attended the celebrations in Warwick, said Australian truckies loved Kenworths because they were "made in Australia for Australian conditions”.

He said there were two reasons the truck was a great fit for Wickham Freight Lines - its reliability and durability.

"They run markets and time-sensitive freight, so having a truck that's going to get there most of the time is important and it's durable and lasts a long time.”

The original first team of Wickham truck drivers Garry Aitken, Wayne Ross, Thomas Stonehouse, Merv Ross, Garth Power and Graham Keogh in 1985.
The original first team of Wickham truck drivers Garry Aitken, Wayne Ross, Thomas Stonehouse, Merv Ross, Garth Power and Graham Keogh in 1985. Contributed

The same six drivers 33 years later. Garry Aitken, Wayne Ross, Thomas Stonehouse, Merv Ross, Garth Power and Graham Keogh.
The same six drivers 33 years later. Garry Aitken, Wayne Ross, Thomas Stonehouse, Merv Ross, Garth Power and Graham Keogh. Contributed

And Wickhams' Kenworths are lasting the distance.

Graham said the business had trucks with millions of kilometres on the clock still going to work every day.

The company began when brothers Peter and Angus Wickham purchased their first Kenworth in the 1970s to transport potatoes from their Killarney property.

The boys would often grade the potatoes, maintain the truck and then drive the load to the Brisbane Markets.

From its humble beginnings, Wickham Freight Lines grew into one of the largest privately- owned transport companies in Australia.

Wickhams' first driver Leslie Latham sitting on the company's first Kenworth truck in 1980.
Wickhams' first driver Leslie Latham sitting on the company's first Kenworth truck in 1980. Contributed

Leslie Latham was thrilled to check out the new Kenworth and snap a picture similar to one from his youth.
Leslie Latham was thrilled to check out the new Kenworth and snap a picture similar to one from his youth. Contributed

Retired truckie and Wickhams' first driver Leslie Latham was one of the business's former drivers who attended the celebrations.

"When I started at Wickhams in 1972 I drove an old farm truck to the markets,” he said.

"I did two or three trips and then they gave me a V series Ford with a V8 Perkins motor in it.

"Then I had a Volvo and then I had a new Kenworth.

"It was big in those days. It was one of those trucks that was brand new and it was great.

"It was Angus' pride and joy - if only he could be here to see this one.”

Leslie left Wickham Freight Lines to work for himself for a while before ending up back at the company, where he stayed until retirement.

He couldn't contain his excitement about the new truck and said he loved it.

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