MOUNT Gambier veteran truckie Milton Turnbull has hit the high road after being inducted into the prestigious National Road Transport Hall of Fame on the weekend.
Mr Turnbull was one of 50 “trucking heroes” recognised for their lifetime achievements in the transport sector at the Alice Springs award ceremony.
Alice Springs is home to the Kenworth Museum, which annually hosts the iconic truckie awards.
While Mr Turnbull is now retired from truck driving, he continues to play a key role in teaching fledging truckies as a driver trainer.
Speaking to The Border Watch yesterday, the Mount Gambier trucking icon said he was “humbled” to receive the accolade.
“Over the years I just did my job, but it is wonderful to be appreciated and recognised,” Mr Turnbull said.
He particularly thanked his wife Liz for supporting his work as a truck driver.
Mr Turnbull – who has been in the industry for decades – said he enjoyed getting behind the wheel.
“It was a chance to see most of Australia. I was my own boss as an owner-driver,” he said.
But the transport icon said the job was long hours and hard work.
“It was a means to an end and I supported my family,” Mr Turnbull said.
While he has retired from long haul trips, Mr Turnbull is now helping to get new drivers onto the road and into the industry.
Although testing his patience at times, Mr Turnbull said it was great to pass on his knowledge to budding drivers.
He said it took a special calibre of person to become a truck driver given the long hours and potential hazards on the road.
He said truck drivers needed to be vigilant given the unpredictability of some motorists.
“As a truck driver, you always try to look ahead,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull was born and raised in Mount Gambier.
After leaving school, he gained work as a spare parts assistant with K&S Freighters and Gambier West Brakes.
By the age of 18, Mr Turnbull realised his love for the transport industry while driving a coach for his father Ken at Turnbull Charter Coaches.
The journey then led him to drive for KMG Haulage with his father and brother Garry, carting Schweppes products and particleboard.
Mr Turnbull was also part of the “National Truck Blockade” that unfolded on the Hume Highway.
Taking the wheel of his own destiny, he purchased his own truck, a Scania 141, with his wife and started trading as ML and EA Turnbull.
Mr Turnbull continued his interstate runs carting mostly particleboard from Mount Gambier to NSW and back-loading through Wodonga with pet food from Uncle Ben’s.
He also carted a diversity of general freight including steel, vehicles, machinery, bricks, fuel, oil and paper.
One of Mr Turnbull’s most memorable trips was carrying Dick Johnson’s precious cargo – “True Blue Number 17 car” – given he was a Ford fanatic.
In 1993, the truckie purchased a Scania 142M – he continues to be a “Scania man.”
Seven years later, he added another trailer to become a B-double operator.
During his 27 years as an owner/operator, Mr Turnbull undertook all his own vehicle maintenance while continuing his interstate runs.
Mr Turnbull then made a career change in 2003 and turned his hand to driver training, including running defensive driving courses.
In 2016, he permanently joined the Fennell Forestry Group as a driver trainer and mentor as well as climbing back behind the wheel in a Kenworth log truck.
Mr Turnbull is now considered to be South Australia’s most qualified and diversified truck driver trainer and assessor and is held in high esteem across the industry.