Old truckies from around Australia are revving their engines for the reunion of a western Queensland trucking company that was the largest private enterprise employer in the region for many years.
Blackall Freighters prime movers were recognised on the highways of outback Australia for 42 years by their distinctive black and white livery, and its drivers brought about many historic feats with trucks that were too small for the jobs they needed to do, on roads that were primitive by today's standards.
One of them was the biggest oil rig shift of its era, when they were asked to take a rig from Moonie in Queensland's western downs to Old Andado, east of Finke in the central Australian desert.
Telling the story, one of the company's principals, Bob Baker remembered that they had to come in from the north and then drive east.
"I personally was towed seven miles with a D7 to get to where they wanted it," he said.
"Then they said, you can't go home empty, go out to Hermannsburg.
"We got a rig from there to take back to Roma for maintenance and storage."
The round trip took three weeks and is bound to be retold with embellishment over coming days.
Blackall entrepreneur Owen Stockwell began the company in 1947 and it went through three name changes - R Stockwell, R Stockwell and Sons, then Stockwell's Freighting Company - before Mr Baker, who had come to the district as a policeman, became a partner in the business.
The Blackall Freighting Company name was registered on July 1, 1972.
Mail runs and fuel deliveries were a staple in the early days - the company was an agent for Commonwealth Oil Refineries, or BP, which it retained until the company dispersed in 1989 - but it was the 1956 shearers' strike that opened up new avenues for the company.
"Originally you only used the rail service for transporting goods of any sort," Mr Stockwell said.
"We could only transport to the nearest railhead, and then after the shearers' strike, it opened it up.
"That's when the birth of road transport really started.
"We had the wool stacked all over the showgrounds and everywhere in Blackall, it was called black wool in those days."
As well as transporting graziers' wool by road for the first time, the company began offering a freight service to and from Brisbane that was unique at the time.
Nothing was too hard for Blackall Freighters, according to its owners - as well as bringing countless loads of store cattle east from as far away as the Western Australia-Northern Territory border and out of the Gulf, on roads that were only half made by today's standards, they moved sheep for the live export trade to Portland in western Victoria.
Another time they were contracted to take heavy machinery to an area around Broome in the Kimberley district of WA, and decided after they'd unloaded that as they'd been halfway round Australia they may as well return via Perth and Adelaide, and be able to say they'd circumnavigated Australia.
Even the Sydney Opera House figures in the Blackall Freighters story, thanks to a local engineering firm, Godfrey Brothers, which had been given the contract to put down the pilot holes for the foundations for the project.
"They had to use a percussion (drilling) rig to see what was down there before they did the actual foundations, and we had the contract to bring in the percussion rigs back from the Sydney Harbour to Blackall," Mr Stockwell recalled.
The reunion is set down for August 24, the 33rd anniversary of the dispersal sale, when 67 registered vehicles went under the hammer.
Both Mr Stockwell and Mr Baker credit former employee Colin 'Chilla' Fletcher as the driving force behind the event.
Still "chewing diesel" driving a D11 bulldozer undertaking rehabilitation work for the Western Australian government at Mandurah, he's one of 80 to 100 former employees expected as the company celebrates its people as much as the feats they achieved.
"They'll do some reminiscing, I can tell you," Mr Stockwell said. "We've had a couple of meetings and I've had to pull them up and say, listen, we're not here to reminisce, we're here to organise."
One of those who has passed on but who the two men describe as the backbone of the company was Ada McEnlly, who not only handled the company's bookkeeping and financial records, but kept everyone in line.
One employee, Len 'Bully' Peut was renowned for not cashing his pay cheques, meaning the books would never balance, so one day when he returned from a big trip, she bailed him up and made him clean his truck out.
In those days, the passenger's side of a B model Mack was where the driver slept so all sorts of things were found, as well as the three unpresented cheques.
Plenty of photos and memories are already being shared on the reunion's Facebook page, which has over 900 members.
Organisers are hoping between 80 and 100 people will come together to remember the good old days.
"We thought after 33 years there wouldn't be anybody left but there's a few out there," Mr Stockwell said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.