Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2004.
Ken Irwin first started driving in 1956 in a tray truck for Robert Purnell of Geelong. He soon moved on to the big jiggers when he started to drive a tanker for Knights of Kilmore.
In 1958 Ken bought his own truck, a Dodge, to run Melbourne to Adelaide. In the late 1960s Ken ventured across to Perth in a new F88 Volvo with the very first Fruehauf tri-axle trailer in Australia. The week-long journey was the beginning of Ken’s love affair with Australia’s great outback and open roads.
Ken carried 16 spares on the top of his loads. After he changed the last flat, he would sit on the side of the road, sometimes for a day, mending each and everyone before he’d continue on his way. Those days on the side of the road would have been awfully boring if not for the Honda 75 Motorbike that Ken had mounted on the back of the cab just in case he had to scout for scalies. Later came a Scania, with bunk beds and room for a party. Ken’s new black Scania looked a treat when he brought it home for the first time. Unfortunately, it was a far cry from what it looked like, not long after, on the side of the road after catching fire. It was just a sad pile of melted metal.
The old Kenworth Ken brought home wasn’t the eye-opener the Scania was. No sleeper and as narrow as a doorway. It only took a few uncomfortable trips before the dog box was added and the green paintwork was replaced with a hot fiery red with the words “Desert Venturer” sprawled across the Kenworth’s long nose. Every mine site in Australia, no matter how small or remote, saw the Desert Venturer at some point. Ken was the initiator of the Geelong (Vic) Transport Drivers Social Club. The club was formed in 1974 and Ken is now a life-member. The road transport industry is richer, in both character and heritage, for having the likes of Ken Irwin work within its ranks.