Laffans remember Pretty Sally

By: Tamara Whitsed


Before Wallan was bypassed, countless truckies relied on the Laffan Brothers’ garage at the foot of Pretty Sally Mountain.

Laffans remember Pretty Sally
Peter and Des Laffan at Wallan with the Dodge painted to resemble a tow truck they used on the Hume Highway in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

The Laffan family has operated tow trucks from Wallan Victoria since the 1930s, and their 400 Dodge truck is a fitting reminder of their family history. 

With ‘Laffan Bros’ painted on the door and ‘Pretty Sally’ on the bonnet, the Dodge resembles a tow truck the Laffans operated in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Peter Laffan says the family’s original Dodge tow truck was actually a Dodge 300. 

"You can imagine the work that little tow truck did," he says. 

A steep hill near Wallan, Pretty Sally, was a notorious black spot on the old Hume Highway and kept the family’s tow trucks busy. 

Many drivers lost control of their trucks on a sharp corner on the Wallan side of the hill until the road was deviated to avoid the steepest section in the 1960s. 

Peter recalls the night a truck driver broke an axle on a brand new International ACCO Butter Box on the top of Pretty Sally, and caught a lift to Wallan to find help.  

"We go up there and all that’s there is the jack – no truck," Peter says.  

They found the ACCO in a creek at the bottom of the hill, and the little Dodge 300 was tasked with its recovery. 

Peter and his brother Des Laffan have many stories of Pretty Sally – like the day they watched circus elephants push underpowered circus trucks 5km from the garage to the top of Pretty Sally.  

There are stories about people who walked away unscathed after spectacular collisions, but many of the stories have tragic endings. 

The garage at Wallan was established by Peter’s father, Bernie Laffan, and today Peter’s nephew Paul Laffan operates Laffan’s Accident Repair Centre from the same site. 

When Owner//Driver visited Wallan, Peter’s son Terry was relieved his unrestored International R190 had survived February’s Mickleham/Kilmore fires.  

Des’ restored 1954 Chevrolet also narrowly escaped the fire. 

Peter, Des, Terry and Danny Laffan tell their family’s story in the June issue of Owner//Driver magazine. Click here to secure your copy now. 

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