Lindsay Brothers staff gather for special celebration in Coffs Harbour

Some 160 former employees of Lindsay Brothers gathered from around the country. Main image: Graham Harsant

The history of Lindsay Brothers Transport, and its successor, Lindsay Australia Limited, has been well documented over the years.

Established by Tom and Peter Lindsay at Coffs Harbour, NSW in 1953 with a couple of second-hand tray trucks, the brothers initially transported local fruit and veggies to the railway for shipping to the Sydney markets.

The business grew to encompass fuel deliveries and many other areas of the transportation business.

Shortly after Peter Lindsay’s sudden passing in 1998, the company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and continued growing into the hundreds of red and white liveried Kenworths that we have all seen traversing our highways.

To the drivers of old however, the friendships, the camaraderie, the respect, the loyalty and the ‘family’ ethos came from those years between 1953 and 2002 when Lindsay’s was a family-run business.

And so, when Tracey Lindsay, daughter of Peter, decided to organise a reunion at Sawtell, NSW – just down the road from Tom and Peter Lindsay’s first depot at Coffs Harbour – some 160 former employees of Lindsay Brothers gathered from around the country to share memories of those long-ago years – to reminisce and catch up with old mates and their families.

There have been Lindsay Brothers’ reunions in the past on a smaller scale including one last year which Tracey attended.

“That was also in Sawtell and I just happened to be home, so was able to attend what was a great night and realised how much fun it was,” said Tracey.

“A couple of my boys – the older ones that I grew up with when I was 5 to 10 years old, weren’t travelling too well so I realised that in another couple of years they might not all be around.

“That was the incentive to try and gather as many of the ‘family’ together as we possibly could.

“When I decided to do it, I rang Gimmy (Warren Gim) and Frankie Thorn to see if they would help, at the same time warning them that I’d constantly be on the phone or in their faces for the next eight months. Of course, they didn’t hesitate.”

Peter and Tom Lindsay in 1976.

In sending out invitations, Tracey and the crew asked if anyone happened to have photographs of old workmates who had passed on. This resulted in a poignant four minute ‘Vale’ video featuring dozens of the Lindsay Brothers family no longer with us. The silence in the room was ‘deafening’ as the video played, followed by sustained and heartfelt applause.

To the delighted surprise of the guests – some money was put behind the bar by Graham Sebbens of Brown & Hurley to get everyone in the mood.

From there, and throughout the evening, the function room at the Sawtell RSL was a cacophony of sound as old friends caught up and reminisced – pausing only to watch another two video presentations played through the evening.

A raffle was drawn with painted drums on offer, as well as Kenworth duffel bags emblazoned with the Lindsay Brothers Reunion 2024 logo.

A drawing by Brad Truck Art of an early Lindsay Bros Ford, purchased by old time subbie,Terry ‘Red Bull’ Thurwood was presented to Tracey in recognition of her efforts.

There was also an amazing quilt made by Tracey and emblazoned with old Lindsay Bros photos which was fittingly won by the oldest attendee, and only one from the 1950’s, Col Jones.

Walking around the room throughout the evening, the most commonly used words were ‘family’ and ‘respect’.

“Peter and Tom could be hard-arses,” said more than one attendee. “But after you got kicked up the bum it was always a case of, that’s done and dusted, let’s move on.”

“Great, fantastic, top, thumbs up, great effort, wonderful evening, great team, special and sensational”, were just some of the plaudits offered at the end.

“I’ve been going for three days and there is still one to go,” said Gimmy, referring to the Last Man Standing to take place at the Sawtell Hotel the following day.

“There’s been a lot of good stories dredged up from the past and it’s been fantastic catching up with old mates, some of whom I thought were dead”

Terry Thurwood met Frankie Thorn in Bundaberg on a Friday over a drink in the 80s and they have been mates ever since. “There was a lot of drinking going on back then,” said Terry.

Terry usually ran across the Hay Plains, but on this occasion was in New England and it was snowing buckets.

The function room at the Sawtell RSL was a cacophony of sound as old friends caught up and reminisced.

“I’d never seen snow before and I rang Frankie, who I knew was in the area and said, what’s the deal with this snow, mate. I can’t see a bloody thing. Frankie’s only advice was to put my seatbelt on and hang on for dear life! So, I did, and I’m still here, which I thought I mightn’t be at the time. Loved those Hay Plains ever since!”

“I think our boys are pretty unique,” said Tracey, who was backed up by Colleen Foster who said, “Over the years there was never anybody like Lindsay Brothers.”

Tracey’s brother Rod encapsulated the family’s feelings when he said, “Dad and Tom started the company. You guys built the company. Thank you very much.”

Loyalty to an employer is something earned by the employer, not the staff. It cannot be bought by money, it is certainly not made by threats or cajoling.

It is gained by respect, honesty and being treated as a person, not a number. It is gained by recognising that your success has only been achieved by those who work with and for you.

It was obvious throughout the evening that Peter and Tom Lindsay worked tirelessly to earn that loyalty from their ‘family’, as evidenced by the turnout this night.

Congratulations to Tracy, Gimmy, Frankie and everybody else involved with the event. It was humbling to be there and to witness the love in the room.

  • For more pictures from the reunion, make sure you grab your free copy of the May 24 issue of Big Rigs from your usual outlet.

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