Well-respected Family-owned and Operated Carrier

well-respected family-owned and operated carrier

From humble beginnings in 1972 with one new Kenworth cab-over prime mover, Wickham Freightlines has steadily evolved into one of the largest, most diversified transport operations, and a well-respected family-owned and operated carrier. Paul Matthei listens intently as co-founder Peter Wickham describes the story of his life and the family company that ensued. 

The saying ‘out of adversity comes opportunity’ was reportedly coined by noted polymath Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

It’s an adage that could have just as easily come from brothers Peter and the late Angus Wickham, founding fathers of today’s Wickham empire which has significant footprints in the symbiotically connected realms of agriculture, livestock and road transport.

Unfortunately, Angus had an untimely passing aged 58 in 1998, just when Wickham Freightlines was really hitting its straps. His legacy continues through Peter and numerous family members and employees who have worked hard to grow the various businesses into the outstanding enterprises they are today.

well-respected family-owned and operated carrier

The brothers were born at Warwick in southeast Queensland, 13 months apart, in the early 1940s, and in the early ‘50s the family moved to Spring Creek Mountain near Killarney, where their father took on a rundown property full of blackberries and scrub.

Incidentally, among his various talents, Peter enjoys playing guitar as well as writing and singing country songs, and recently recorded a CD called ‘Along Life’s Highway’. Song number four is titled ‘60,000th’ where Peter describes in song the family’s journey from the time the property was bought to the time that Wickham Freightlines purchased the 60,000th Kenworth to roll off the production line at Paccar’s Bayswater plant in late 2017.

As the song relates, for the first 10 years logging on the mountainside at Killarney was the primary concern and the logs were dragged down by bullock teams. As the Wickham boys grew up, and with diesel in their veins, trucks were purchased to replace the bullock teams, hauling the timber down the Condamine Track.

Peter explains that his main interests were farming and logging, driving the Ferguson tractor and operating the International TD14 dozer and chainsaws clearing scrub and felling timber, while Angus was the trucking man through and through. 

well-respected family-owned and operated carrier

“For us it really all started in the late ‘50s when Angus, who was 13 months older, and I were in our late teens and eking out a living in the logging game,” says Peter, who recently became an octogenarian. 

“We had two trucks, an NR Mack and a sort of hybrid prime mover that Brown and Hurley, a Leyland truck dealer at the time, built for us. It consisted of a Leyland Hippo that had been cut in half behind the cab, with the front end grafted onto a Mack chassis and tandem drive setup.”

Peter says the unlikely combination (a LeyMack, perhaps?) worked very well, although it did have its limitations, as the men found out one day when lugging a heavy load of logs down the Condamine Track and across one of the 14 rough creek crossings.  

“We put this huge load of logs on it, and down we came with this big truck and Angus at the wheel,” says Peter. “He was taking it nice and steady across the rocks in a creek bed when one wheel got hung up on a slippery rock and that was that, there were no diff locks or anything else to help us out.

“So she sat there for the night and we walked the two miles back home. The next morning we came back with the tractor and gave her a shove to get her moving.”

well-respected family-owned and operated carrier

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