Vale Don Opperman

By: Tamara Whitsed

The late Don Opperman once owned Australia’s largest fleet of Diamond Ts.

The late Don Opperman.

Retired truck driver and fleet operator Don Opperman of Kilmore is being remembered as one of the industry’s most respected identities following his death on April 30, 2018. He was 88.

Donald Henry Opperman was born in Whittlesea, Victoria, in 1930. He began his trucking career in 1948 when he purchased a KS5 International tray truck to cart palings and logs.

From 1952 Opperman’s Transport ran interstate, initially with a 190 International and White WC22.

In 1956 he was among the many truck drivers stranded on the Hume Highway when rain caused the road to fail near Tarcutta.

Opperman is best remembered for his famous fleet of head-turning Diamond Ts which ran interstate to Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane in the 1950s and 1960s. He also owned International R190s and Ford F600s. At his peak, Opperman had 16 trucks on interstate.

He sold his trucks in 1970 and returned to owner-driving in 1973 when he bought an International tipper to work for Readymix. In the 1980s he began carting sand for trotting tracks.

A Diamond T from Don Opperman’s fleet.

Opperman retired in 1998, after 50 years in the industry. In his retirement he restored a Diamond T which was painted in Opperman’s Transport livery.

He valued enduring friendships with former employees and others he met during his trucking career.

In 2005 he was inducted to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs. On its website, the Hall of Fame describes Opperman as "one of this industry’s most well-known and respected men on the highways".

Don Opperman with his son Michael Opperman and his restored Diamond T.

He was predeceased by his wife Judy in 2010 and is survived by three children (Michael, Lawrence and Kerry), nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Opperman was buried at Yan Yean Cemetery, Whittlesea, on Monday May 7 after a funeral at the cemetery chapel. Friends from his trucking years were among the mourners.

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