Trucking trooper lives on

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

Thirty five years ago a truck driven by one young man set out on rural roads.

Now, about 2.5 million kilometres later that same workhorse will stand as a testament to the memory of its owner.

Roger Goss, a well loved truck owner and driver of the Esperance region, will be honoured in passing, a credit to a man whose contribution to an industry and an area is measured by the number who hold him dear.

A proverbial driving force in Esperance’s trucking industry until his sudden death in February 2010, Roger’s first and last love, his 1975 Oshkosh prime mover, will be donated to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs later this week.

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Roger’s brother, Bruce, and Malcolm Ferme, a lovable trucking legend and close mate of Roger’s, have worked together to return the Oshkosh to its former glory.

In doing so they have ensured that along with the immortal Oshkosh, Roger’s memory will never fade.

A diesel mechanic, Roger ‘Stretch’ Goss arrived in Esperance from Tasmania in 1975.

After a few years plying his trade, Roger gained on-farm work in the burgeoning agricultural area, where his affinity with trucks was soon confirmed — not at all surprising to brother Bruce.

“He loved driving. It must be in the blood, ” Bruce said.

Roger started driving the Oshkosh for its then owner, Rudd Barbarich.

In 1978, the Wrights purchased the truck and along with it went Roger.

“He went with it, as a going concern, ” Bruce said with a laugh.

Finally, Roger bought the truck in 1983 after making an offer too good to refuse and worked around the clock for a month solid to pay it off.

The 1975 model, with a Cat engine delivering 275 horsepower, has managed 2.5 million kilometres almost solely under Roger’s hand.

Roger is remembered as a man with a big heart and an even bigger commitment to his work.

National Road Transport Hall of Fame inductee John Backman worked with Roger on many occasions.

“He was a very generous man, a really good person. He meant a lot to his mates, ” John said.

Roger was also highly regarded by industry cohorts.

“We always reckoned he had longer legs than the rest of us. He seemed to be able to get that truck moving faster than any of us could, ” long-time friend Malcolm joked.

After subcontracting to Esperance Livestock, Roger set up R.M Goss Pty Ltd in 1996.

The Oshkosh was kept on, playing an integral part as yard truck and doing farm pick-ups.

By 2010, R.M Goss had grown to three Kenworths, 12 trailers and countless owner-drivers.

Workers and friends still miss the Friday nights in Roger’s shed with a few beers.

Through the years, Roger’s love affair with the Oshkosh never ceased. On several occasions he threatened it with sale, recalled Bruce.

“He said $10,000 would buy her, but though he alluded to it he never sold it, ” he said.

In 2000, Roger decided to restore the truck and in tribute to his brother, Bruce has committed to finishing what Roger started.

Bruce and Malcolm have invested time and money doing the man — and the Oshkosh — proud.

“We’ve probably spent $10,000 on it, ” Bruce said.

“It’s been repainted and there’s been some mechanical repairs.

“We got the name and Esperance put on — they weren’t originally there but it gives people something to relate to.”

After a lifetime’s work, the Oshkosh departed Esperance last Saturday with freight transport donated by local truck driver Brad Scott.

The National Road Transport Hall of Fame was extremely keen to add an Oshkosh to its collection, with the truck set to be presented at its annual gala dinner.

Attended by more than 1000 people, the prime mover will be gracing the evening under the trailer stage.

Bruce believes that bequeathing the truck was possibly what Roger had intended all along. The donation will now benefit many.

“A lot of people feel part of it — they have an affiliation with this truck and its history, so a lot of people will gain a sense of pride, ” he said.

“It’s a tremendous way to remember him.

“There aren’t many truckies that don’t go through Alice Springs at some stage and it will be there on display for them to see. Roger would be very proud.”

The truck takes with it the best wishes of friendships gathered in partnership with its owner. Roger’s Oshkosh will now tell its story to countless others driving similar roads.

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