Founding Fathers of Today’s Wickham Freightlines 

founding fathers of today’s Wickham Freightlines

Peter and the late Angus Wickham, were the founding fathers of today’s Wickham Freightlines operation, which has significant footprints in the symbiotically connected realms of agriculture, livestock and road transport.

Peter Wickham reflects on the history of the operation with PowerTorque’s Paul Matthei. He has turned significant memories about the growing of the business into songs. 

For the first 10 years of the business, logging on the mountainside at Killarneyin Queensland was the primary concern and the logs were dragged down by bullock teams. As the Wickham boys, Peter and Angus, grew up, with diesel in their veins, trucks were purchased to replace the bullock teams, hauling the timber down the Condamine Track.

Later, the credit squeeze of 1962 made the logging work unprofitable so, as Peter’s ‘60,000th’ song goes, their father said, ‘C’mon boys now, I didn’t rear two duds, we’ll get to work and clear this ground and grow ourselves some spuds.’

founding fathers of today’s Wickham Freightlines

GIF published by @bryank200. 

The locals reckoned they didn’t stand a chance in that wild and untamed country but the two ‘boys’, then in their early 20s, and their father set to work to prove the doubters wrong. They cleared the mountainside, blowing the stumps out with gelignite to reveal the fertile country suitable for growing potatoes.

Their hard slog was rewarded with several bumper seasons, the spuds growing superbly in the rich red soil.

It was the need for a reliable truck to cart the spuds to the markets that eventually led the Wickham brothers to purchase their first Kenworth, starting a journey with the iconic Australian-built brand that continues stronger than ever today.

Apparently, their father was none too pleased with the relatively high cost of the new Kenworth, as the song tells us: ‘Our father he was not impressed, he thought we’d run amuck, when we owed all this money on our first Kenworth truck.’

However, the brothers, having persevered over the previous decade with the likes of Austins, Commers and Internationals that in their estimation just wouldn’t do the job, felt confident that they’d made the right decision. The success of the mighty Wickham Freightlines company of today is testament to their accurate assessment of the Kenworth capabilities.

The song continues, ‘Many tours of the factory we’ve had from time to time, buying every thousandth truck that comes off the line; see the factory people and their attitude is right, making sure every bolt and nut is always screwed up tight.

‘We’ll always just buy Kenworth ‘cause they’re Australian made, built for our conditions, other trucks won’t make the grade; with the Brown and Hurley salesman standing by the door, we buy them buy the dozen and own them by the score.’

Peter performed his song ‘60,000th’ in front of a crowd of 600 people including the entire Paccar Bayswater workforce at the 2017 handover ceremony of the 60,000th Kenworth built in Australia. He received a standing ovation and that night the song had amassed more than 39,000 hits on YouTube.

“The song ‘60,000th’ is about the history of my family and the business,” Peter says.

“I made up the song and sang it there, at the event and that was the start of it. 

“I wrote the song to record my memories and what I’ve gone through. I bought a guitar when I was about 40 years old and taught myself how to play it, I’ve always been making up songs and that sort of thing.

“It’s been a real privilege to have the opportunity to put these songs together on a CD and I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Chris Cook, who owns and runs Chris Cook Studio in Kyogle, along with Chris O-Reilly and David Waddington who helped pull it all together.”

founding fathers of today’s Wickham Freightlines

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