Based at Walgett and serving the north west NSW farming community, Steven and Kate Thurston operate Thurston’s Transport on the traditional values of trust, loyalty and reliability. As Paul Matthei discovered, these same values correlate with the trucks they operate, all of which belong 100 per cent to the Bulldog brigade.
The Thurston name is synonymous with rural trucking in Walgett and surrounding districts of north western NSW, where several generations of the family have been plying their transport trade over the last 72 years.
It all began in 1947 when, then 17-year-old, Bob Thurston, who sadly passed away in 2020 at the grand age of 89, started doing the mail run in the Walgett district. Bob subsequently did gravel work for the shire council along with general freight to and from Sydney and Newcastle to the western areas in a British-built Ford Thames Trader.
In the ensuing years he built up the business with the help of his family, carrying livestock, wool, grain and general freight. Deals were done on a handshake, and the welfare of the freight was always the top priority.
Bob’s four sons, Allan, Steve, Nobby and John, followed him into the business. Nobby eventually branched out on his own and with his wife Kelly now runs R.J. Thurston Trucking at Breeza, 300km to the south east, while John also took a different path in his trucking career.
Meanwhile, Allan, Steve and his wife Kate carried on with Thurston’s Transport at Walgett until ill health unfortunately forced Allan into retirement some years back. Nowadays it’s husband-and-wife team Steve and Kate who do the bulk of the driving, along with a number of long-time family friends who help out in times of peak demand such as the grain harvest.
The day PowerTorque visited, the Thurston crew were cooling their heels as recent rain had put a temporary hold on the harvest. It proved to be fortuitous timing as a few days later the headers once again whirred back into action and it was all hands on deck to provide the grain transportation from paddock to silo.
Speaking with Steve Thurston, it’s clear from the outset that he lives and breathes trucks, which is hardly surprising considering he was travelling with his Dad in trucks from the age of four.
“Dad was born and bred in the Pilliga region near Baradine and apart from a few years living and working in Sydney he spent his whole life in the north west of NSW,” Steve says, adding that the family moved to Walgett in the early ‘70s when he was about four years old.
On the Spanners
Steve takes care of all the servicing and repairs that are required on the Mack prime movers and trailers. While he’s had no formal mechanical training, Steve says he learnt his skills literally from the ground up when he was a little tacker helping his father with vehicle maintenance.
“I was the chief bearing washer and re-packer and brake lining changer from the time I was old enough to hold a hammer and a paint brush,” quips Steve. “That was a pretty good grounding and it taught me to keep my foot off the brake pedal as much as possible so as not to have to do that sort of work too often.”
This is an important factor for Thurston’s, considering that during the busy harvest season there’s no time for downtime, it’s all go to haul the grain that’s stripped at a phenomenal rate by the headers safely to the local silos.
For Steve and Kate Thurston, this is much more than just a job – it’s a way of life, one with the traditional values of trust, loyalty and reliability. Driving the Macks they adore and restoring the old ones to their former glory are labours of love that suit them just fine.