By Norman Smith, President of the Gembrook RSL
When I first started driving buses for US Motors Belgrave in the early 1950’s, the roads were narrower than what they are now and the edges dropped away.
The three safety rules were…
1) Always remember that the lives and safety of your passengers is your responsibility.
2) Never rely on your brakes – use gears as well. Crash boxes and handbrake for emergency.
3) If you’re going up hill and there is a truck in front of you, it doesn’t matter what sort of a load it is always leave plenty of room between you.
Well apparently those words of wisdom saved my life and my passengers!
[I remember once] there was an empty log truck ahead of me, piggy backing his jinker which was hinged and sat in a cradle above the cabin.
The short part of the pole was the front bit and the longest part of the pole was the back half, which had the wheels on it.
Next minute, the back part of the pole slid off the jinker, it hit the road and three times bounced like a basketball as high as the bus and on the third bounce, it spun around with the pole heading for the bus.
I slipped away from the steering wheel – there were no passengers in the front seats and I thought if the pole hit the motor, it might go between the seats – but miracles do happen!
There was a whooshing sound (I thought it was angels wings and a harp), next minute the two windscreens went dark, and then clear.
The jinker had catapulted over the farm fence and headed off down the hill into the creek.
As I got out of the bus, the driver who was shaking and white was standing there.
First thing I said was “your eyes beat you here!” …they were sticking out like dogs balls!
Then we looked and seen the black marks the tyres had made on the road not far from the front of the bus, and where the pole had slipped over the bank and stuck in the ground, and heaved the jinker over the fence.
Then I drove off and left him to find his jinker which was a long walk!
As far as I know these two truck drivers put their own lives at risk and never told their families.
The first one put his tray truck of logs into the bank and the second one put his over the bank.
And when he looked down, a pointy stump was sitting beside him – both had lost their brakes and didn’t want to put the bus passengers at risk.
The coincidence was all three truck drivers all carried logs and timber.
The four were all from around the hills.