Mildura Weekly : Friday October 31 2014 Vol 8 No 52
RIVERLAND 25 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2014 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU horrendous car crash on New Year’s Day in 1967. He was unwilling to accept the offered disability accident, his parents closed down the family business, and Arthur had to start again. In Part 2 of his lifeline for remote Northern Territory towns. That resulted in him being given a special honour... for pioneer trucker Arthur travelled to Darwin in June, 1976 to look for new business opportunities and soon began supplying Don McGowan with fruit and vegetables, using Jim Cooper to truck it from Alice Springs to Darwin. Don couldn’t use a full container of goods each week so Arthur gained a client at Elliott – half way between Alice and Darwin – who would buy the remaining space. “Don McGowan and I worked well togeth- er,” Arthur said. “He would get the best of ev- erything in South Australia and Queensland.” AS an example, Arthur said he would be sending more than 800 cases of oranges to Darwin each week during the Navel season. “I used to do 40 cases of lemons a week be- cause I could get lemons year round,” he said. Crowhurst Fruits would load the con- tainers in Adelaide each Thursday, with Jim picking them up from Alice each Saturday and transporting them by road to Darwin on the Monday. “One Monday morning Jim rang me from Alice Springs to tell me he could not take my containers,” Arthur said. An op- position company had told Jim that if he continued to take Arthur’s goods he would lose all his work with them. An anxious Arthur rang Reg Smith at Arctic Foods and explained the situation, desperate to get someone to take containers of perishables from Alice Springs to Darwin. Reg said the person involved was up to ‘old tricks’ to remove opposition and not to worry, he would ring a bloke he knew at Grace Bros, and to expect a call in five to 10 minutes. “In less than 10 minutes I received a phone call – it was Trevor Wilson from K & T Transport,” Arthur said. Within three weeks he was asked to deliver two or three more containers a week to Darwin, and Trevor, who had been delivering mail to everyone up and down the track, said that if anyone mentioned his company just to make up the orders with brands, load it in rotation, send a telex to Grace Bros with the numbers of containers and they would deliver them to all the little places along the way. “This was the best thing to happen to my business,” Arthur said. “The run from Three- ways north of Tennant Creek to Katherine was known as the ‘track run.’ “People on this run had never had a weekly service before. “If they needed anything for their shops they would ring me up and I would buy it and send it up for them. “Within three months we were doing four or five containers a week. “I ended up with 30 IGA stores from Threeways up.” However, it wasn’t easy going. with plenty of hurdles to follow. “I used to buy potatoes from two people that I carted potatoes to market for,” Arthur said. “Then the Potato Board stepped in and said I had to buy from them.” The growers couldn’t risk selling to Arthur because they then couldn’t sell their remain- ing harvest through the Board. Arthur bought his first weekly supply of 20 tons through the Board’s merchant in Adelaide, only to have them arrive in Darwin soft and going rotten. He told the Board he wasn’t going to pay for the potatoes and they said they would sue him. Arthur would complain, the quality would im- prove then the next load would be “a load of rubbish.” Potato market lost The Darwin market for 24 – 30 tonnes of SA potatoes a week was lost to Queensland. Not to be beaten, Arthur contacted the Ag- riculture Department, and within 10 days an inquiry was held in Adelaide, with Arthur al- lotted 15 minutes to speak. He spoke for 45. “The next day I read in the Advertiser that the Potato Board was going to be disbanded,” he said. “I didn’t get paid for the potatoes, but I was $3000 out of pocket for freight.” When the new Islington Rail Terminal was close to completion, Arthur questioned how he would load his containers from there with- out a depot. Australian National Rail’s representative told him that TNT Railex and Toll would han- dle it. “That would be a very easy way to put me out of business,” Arthur said. Another meeting ensued – initially to see how the big companies could help him. The result was that he was allowed to put up a shed at the new terminal, delaying the opening by six months, but keeping him in business. Soon a cool room and freezer were added. Crowhurst Fruits began filling a 40-foot container of meat to supply two Katherine Butchers, and another for three Darwin butch- ers. Arthur was sending a total of eight 40-foot containers, or the equivalent in 20-foot con- tainers a week from Adelaide – with groceries and dry goods, hanging meat, chiller fruit and vegetables and frozen goods. “Within two years we were doing up to 13 to 15 containers a week,” he said. “We started loading two days a week into the Territory. We also got business from Bathurst Island and Gove. And I did the groceries, fruit and veggies and meat out there. We had to get into Darwin by Friday to catch the Perkins’ barge.” The 1980s were the best years for Crow- hurst Fruits – the third largest freighter on the railway line. Throughout his working life, Arthur showed his acumen for problem solving – making or inventing tools and equipment to suit his purposes. “I was a self-taught welder and me- chanic,” he said. “I made all the gates for my trucks, and I strengthened the axles on the trailers.” Brake shoes wore out continually on trucks, they were time-consuming to re- place, so Arthur came up with some modi- fications. “In an hour I could do the brake shoes and brakes and put new tyres on,” he said. Arthur the inventor His most notable invention was the Rotowash, which he designed to fit on a forklift to clean shipping containers. He patented the idea, had them made by Brudi Engineering Company, and went on to export them to Japan. Grocery giant Woolworths opened a store in Katherine in 1991. The following year was a bad one for Arthur – business started to get tight, and he lost his wife Dorothy to cancer. Arthur’s business had halved by the end of 2001, however, his efforts to supply fresh and frozen foods to the Northern Territory hadn’t gone unnoticed. “In 2003 I was nominated for the road Transport Hall of Fame,” Arthur said. “I was nominated as a pioneer of the Territory be- cause our company was the first to offer a weekly service of dry, chiller, frozen and fruit and vegies to the Northern Territory. “The most important part was doing a weekly service to all the roadhouses, shops and hotels and stations along the track from Three- ways to Katherine.” “I had a heart attack in 2006, and decided to close the business down,” Arthur said. The warning was a lot of pain in his right arm when he woke at midnight, but he strug- gled through the day and drove back to Waik- erie that evening. He went into the hospital for a check-up, and had a heart attack while hooked up the diagnostic machine – it saved his life. At mid- night he was flown to Adelaide, and operated on immediately. Although Arthur was meant to take six weeks off work, he was back on the job within days of his release – answering phones and or- ganising things – but no lifting. “This was a good hint to me to stop work- ing so hard,” Arthur said. “I decided to close the business down at the end of the financial year.” Unfortunately, unlike his original Mile End shed, his Islington base was on Crown land so he couldn’t sell it – instead having to disman- tle the shed and leave the land clear. Fortunately, he was able to sell the cool room, freezer room, full container customer base, and 40 containers. Arthur continues to live on Ramco Road in a house on the fruit block where the Crowhurst family first established themselves in Waikerie a century ago. • BREAKING INTO SONG: The cover of the CD of the song which Arthur Crowhurst commissioned Tony Roberts to write and record. Brayden named Youth of the Year RENMARK High School student Brayden Jenke has been named the overall win- ner in the Renmark Lions Club’s Youth of the Year program, and will now set his sights on the Regional Final in Berri on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Brayden beat out fellow Youth of the Year contestants Nicki Bakaj and Phillip Brown to take out the award. If successful at the Berri event, Brayden would then contest the District Final in Mt Gambier against winners from Sunraysia, Broken Hill, the North- er Territory and areas of Adelaide, be- fore possibly heading to the State Final in Murray Bridge on Saturday, April 11. Award noms sought THE District Council of Loxton Waikerie is calling on nominations for the annual Citizen of the Year Awards,. The Citizen of the Year program is run in partnership with the Australia Day Council of SA and features three categories – Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Community Event of the Year. The Awards aim to reward and recog- nise individuals and organisations that have made a noteworthy contribution during the current year, and/or give an outstanding service over a number of years to their local community. Nomination forms are available on Council’s website, or through Council offices in Waikerie and Loxton. Nomina- tions must be made in writing, and will close on Friday, November 21, at 5pm. 424 San Mateo Avenue Mildura, Victoria, 3500 T (03) 5021 1777 F (03) 5021 1733 E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.milduraweekly.com.au Available for just $20 at the Mildura Weekly office.
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