Tassie truckies honour their fallen
ANOTHER year has passed and here we were again on our way to Epping Forest on January 18, and happily it stayed cloudy but pleasant, and thankfully clear of the smoke from the fires burning on the flanks of nearby Ben Lomond and also near Fingal, for the 350 or so folk who assembled at the Epping Forest Caltex for the sixth Memorial Service at the Memorial Wall there, and for the Dedication of 13 new plaques.
Rusty Grundy had assembled a good Convoy from Deloraine (outside Highland Haulage) where they assembled at 9.30am, then proceeded to Perth where they met up with more trucks, including late arrivals from the ferry, at 10 then proceeding at 10.30 to Epping, and the final turnout was of about 24 trucks on the day all beautifully detailed and including everything from vintage trucks to the latest gear.
There was great country music from Garry Pengelly and Apache, a successful raffle to raise funds, and stalls selling merchandise, including the new goods happily organised by Tia Pirimona, (Adam's fiancé), as well as the traditional jumping castle and Face painting for the kids.
Starting punctually at Noon, Michael Greeves from the Epping Forest Caltex, acted as Master of Ceremonies, and welcomed the crowd and acknowledged the many people who have worked to make the day a success.
Jonathan Price on behalf of the "Wall Committee" welcomed everyone who had attended, from one end of Tasmania to the other and including Interstate. Adam Hodgetts thanked all who had contributed to the days memorial, and all who attended and were participating.
The Hon. Brian Mitchell, Federal MP for Lyons, then spoke emotionally about the significance of the Wall, being a monument as well as a testament, to the hard work and dedication of all those who have made it the success it is, and also acknowledging the vital importance of the road transport Industry, and especially the drivers and workers, to the Tasmanian economy.
Ebony from Rural Alive and Well (RAW) then delivered a well received and thoughtful address regarding loneliness and depression, suicide prevention, and the need to reach out to friends, to keep chatting and to keep close to them.
Tammy Price then read the beautiful and emotional "Truckies Poem".
After this the Reverend Ian Oates from Saint Luke's in Campbelltown and the Midlands Anglican Church read a sympathetic address and spoke about the tragic sacrifices made by truck drivers and their families before blessing the wall, and the new plaques that had been installed, and those gathered there.
The Lord's prayer was then respectfully read.
Members of the community then came forth and read moving and emotional tributes to their family members, and to all those remembered on the Wall and then One minute's silence was observed.
Floral tributes were placed against the wall as follows: "The Tasmanian Memorial Wall" laid by Adam Hodgetts, "The Victorian Truck Drivers Memorial", laid by Tony Whitehouse, and the "White Hill Truck Drivers Memorial" in South Australia laid by Jonathan Price.
The flags were efficiently and respectfully lowered to half-mast by Sean Hinds and Kelvin Koen, followed by Pipe Major John Fardon from the "Launceston RSL Pipes and Drums" playing "Amazing Grace" and other traditional and respectful pipe music, while family and friends filed quietly along placing red and white roses in the niches alongside their respective plaques.
The 2020 memorial was yet another moving and emotional day, one organised with great efficiency and due reverence by the Committee.
We repeat that the road transport Industry in Tasmania is indeed fortunate to have this central, well maintained and accessible monument at Epping Forest to commemorate the lives of those many drivers who have sadly departed over the years.
The "Wall", conveniently situated adjacent to the Epping Forest Caltex Roadhouse and Truckstop, worthily satisfies the deep need for, and appreciation of, a quiet and pleasant place for people to come and remember their loved ones, work mates and friends.
We can confidently look forward to this now traditional annual event continuing on into the far foreseeable future.
And it is indeed reassuring to see it secure in the capable hands of those who have proven to be such truly dedicated guardians of this perpetual site centrally situated on Tasmania's Midland Highway.
Finally Jonathan Price asked us to thank the Fisher family who own the adjoining farm for kindly opened their paddock again for parking on the day.