Ray Gilleland's life
on the early roads of Australia
A group of humorous stories
from that time in his life.
I was born October 28, 1931,
and spent my childhood growing up at Botany Bay,
where Captain Cook first landed in Australia in 1770.
They were the years of the great depression, and then it was World War 2
when the motor vehicle was displacing the horse and buggy era. It was a
changing and exciting time.
Myself along with others of this generation were becoming aware that
distance was not measured by the local neighbourhood anymore, and when
my father asked what I wanted to do, I answered "Chase the horizon". And
that's what I did for the next 30 years.
with ex army K5 Internationals, Austins and Bedfords in the late 1940's
I learnt to drive, and improvise repairs to keep them going. From there
I moved on to an R7 Commer with 32 foot semi trailer delivering roof
tiles, which was then turned into the first gooseneck, double deck car
carrier, in Australia to deliver new cars between Sydney and Melbourne,
a 1000 mile trip.
After a couple of years of doing that, I turned to general freight.
This was the time when the government railways had the monopoly of all
freight delivered over 50 miles. I joined the others in the fight
against that monopoly and unjust taxes over the years, with many court
cases. Many went broke, some went to jail and some like myself were on
the "Most Wanted List", but victory finally won free trade between the
states. It was an exciting time, and was often referred to as "The Great
The roads between the capital cities on the East coast still had gravel
sections and were based on the original Cobb and Co. stage coach routes
between country towns. So if a driver kept zigzagging along these old
routes from town to town he would eventually reach his destination in
There was one frontier left and that was the 3000 miles across Australia
from the East coast to the West coast including the 1000 miles of
uninhabited dirt track across the dreaded Nullarbor Plain to Perth the
most isolated Capital city in the world. I was one of the pioneers to
tackle this in the 1950's.
After breaking down on one trip in the middle of the 90 mile straight,
and taking 3 months to do the trip, my mates had laughingly decided that
I had become a land owner out there with my Stetson, cowboy boots, and a
.45 pistol, hence the name "The Nullarbor Kid." It has stuck to me ever
In the early 1960's I tried something new, driving two up on a shuttle
run between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, With Kenworths powered by V8
I then moved to the subtropics and founded
Surfers Paradise Removals and Storage, occasionally doing a trip
just to keep my hand in.
1996 I retired, then, in 2000 at 70 years of age I delivered cars
around the United States for a bit of excitement. During that time I
started to write my Autobiography "My Way on the Highway".
2001 I began putting it together, and finally it was published, and released at the Brisbane Truck show 2005.
am presently working on a second book of true stories from my early
days and am hoping to have it available in 2008.