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Nordic adventurer – Ollie Aspevik

Norwegian-born Ollie Aspevik took a punt when he decided to jump ship and settle in Australia. It turned out to be a fruitful endeavour as he commenced a long running career in interstate road transport

Many who choose the life of a truck driver do so out of exposure to the industry from a young age. A father or uncle may have had trucks and school holidays may have provided childhood adventures and the freedom of the open road to inspire. This story is a common one and repeats itself, time and time again. So how does a young Norwegian boy eventually find his way to Australia to forge a lifelong career in the transport industry?

For those who may not know, Norway is way up north … way, way up north. Bordered by Sweden on one side and the North and Norwegian Seas on the other, Norway is known for its blonde-haired blue-eyed locals, salmon fishermen, the northern lights, deep coastal fjords and Vikings.

It’s Norway’s coastal fjords that gave a young Ollie Aspevik his introduction to the world of transport, far be it from the highways and by-ways of Australia in the seat of a truck. 


From the small settlement bearing Ollie’s family name for 500 years, Aspevik on Norway’s west coast provided the ideal base for Ollie’s father to operate his small boat throughout the fjords transporting all manner of goods to include groceries, mail and even livestock for the local residents not serviced by roads.

From a young age, Ollie and his brothers would regularly skip school to help their father out with tasks related to his business. “We probably only went to school two days per week; there was always plenty of other things to do to keep us busy,” Ollie explains.

While crucial transport experience was no doubt being learned, it would be more than a decade before Ollie would find himself behind the wheel of a truck in Australia.


With the maritime life transfused into his blood, a young Ollie joined the merchant navy in 1959 to see the world. He was just 15-years old.

For a little over a decade, Ollie worked on many varying ships, from Norway, Sweden, Belgium and the USA. “At one point, in 1962 we were on a steam ship off Siberia in 27 degree temperatures trying to keep steam up,” he laughs. Ollie remembers the date well as it was during the Cuban missile crisis, with tensions between the USA and the then USSR putting the world on the brink of nuclear war.

During his time in the merchant navy, Ollie visited many parts of the world, including several trips to Australia. Upon deciding to leave the shipping game and Norway, Ollie briefly considered moving to the USA, however with soldiers returning from the Vietnam war given employment priority upon repatriation, and based on conversations at Aussie pubs he had over a beer or two during his shore breaks from shipping, Ollie reasoned that Australia would offer more bountiful employment prospects.

1980 F10 Volvo.jpg

With his decision made, Ollie says that it took a mere two weeks for his travel plans to be sorted out and he was on a plane to Sydney. “I arrived on the October long weekend in 1970 and by the following Tuesday, I had a job. It wasn’t a good one, but it was a job,” Ollie says.

After a time in Sydney working in the building trade, Ollie then moved to the NSW Central Coast after meeting his future wife who had a block of land at Tuggerah. Here he continued working as a builder with the work providing well for Ollie and his wife. Using Ollie’s words, it went “gangbusters” for quite a while.

By the time 1973 had come around, according to Ollie, the government of the day was over-regulating and taxing the building game to a point where he felt it was not as viable as it once was. Around this time a chance meeting with a bloke called Trevor, who spotted Ollie’s small petrol engine-powered Ford truck that he had purchased for his building work, would set the wheels in motion for the remainder of Ollie’s career – truck driving.

Trevor was carting pre-cast concrete products from Monier in North Wyong. Trevor, who had a couple of semi-trucks and trailers, would often have a few tonnes left over which he could not fit on his trailers. Ollie’s little truck would be perfect to pick up the overflow, he thought. “If you are after a little bit of work for the truck I can give you some,” Trevor had said to Ollie. And there began what would turn into a 50-year transport career.

Eventually Ollie sold the little Ford and drove trucks for Trevor, including a couple of V8 Dodges and later, eight-wheeler Leaders with V8 Caterpillar engines.

Later Ollie took a job with a builder who had purchased one of the very first Volvo F12 trucks in the country. According to Ollie, it was a promotional truck for a truck show in 1980 and had lots of chrome and fancy bits with a flash paint job.

Scania 142 V8 Ollies first truck.jpg

“It had a 10-tonne crane behind the cab and the builder was going to cart his own bricks to site with it and he offered me a job driving it. He paid too much money for that truck and it sat around not working a lot of the time,” he recalls.

“I offered to find some work for the truck, which I did. I ended up working on interstate with it and I kept it going for a while, but it wasn’t enough and he ended up going bust.

“I got back from Melbourne in it one day and there were two guys sitting in a car; they came over and asked me to get all my gear out; they were taking the truck,” Ollie says.

Back breaking

Local driving work around the Central Coast kept Ollie busy for a while before an opportunity came up to drive for a business in Sydney carting pipes from Moss Vale to Melbourne. This job saw Ollie make a move in the mid-1980s to his current location of Marulan in NSW, notable for its heavy vehicle compliance checking stations and perpetual calls over the UHF of, “What are the bridges doin’?”.

The pipe work saw Ollie start out in a Ford Louisville, then into one of the first Volvo Globetrotters in the country, but Ollie’s time in the Globetrotter was set to be marred by misfortune. Ollie was badly injured in a crash near Shepparton, causing him to break part of his back. The truck was repaired and later sent to Melbourne to work on container movements. Ollie, however, was laid up for six weeks and says it was more like six months before he was back to some kind of normal.

Following the accident, Ollie took on some work driving a tipper and working on the Marulan bypass project, the work was easy and not too physical, which with his injuries, suited him well at the time.

Ollies Father's boat SVANA (swan).jpg

Once well again, Ollie entered the owner-driver club, buying his first truck (not counting the old Ford), an F10 Volvo. “I started working for Brambles who eventually took over Vaughan Transport. I subbied for a while pulling their trailers before they got really big. I then left and purchased my own trailer,” Ollie explains.

The Volvo was later traded for a Scania 142. “That wasn’t a bad truck,” Ollie says. “I had a good run out of it for a while before trading it in on a Scania Streamline.”

In the year 2000 Ollie was offered work relocating portable huts from the Olympics facility in Sydney across to Adelaide. “Len Woods had the contract and there was that much work I bought another truck and employed a driver.

“There was a constant supply of huts waiting for transport. We could do as many as we wanted; you just rolled in, loaded them up and you were on your way.

“For the return trip back to Sydney, we back-loaded timber out of Mt Gambier,” Ollie explains.

Once the hut work was completed, Ollie was now left with the task of finding work for not just one truck, but two. He managed to secure some work carting steel plate out of Port Kembla to Adelaide for a while.

Scania 144 and Streamliner.jpg

A little later a truck with work came up for sale carting pavers from Melbourne to Sydney. The owner was located in the NSW town of Oberon and the truck that came with the contract was a Western Star. Ollie checked it out and decided it looked like a good opportunity.

However, while the work was good the truck was not.

“The guy I bought it from thought he was a bit of a mechanic and did a lot of bodgie repairs on it himself. He was no bloody mechanic; I had a lot of problems with that truck which I had to eventually get rid of. I replaced it with another Volvo.

“That contract turned into a real good one,” Ollie says. “I had my three trucks as well as subbies from time to time running pavers up from Melbourne. There was a huge demand for the pavers to be used on the footpaths in Sydney and Kings Cross.”

Time to downsize

Around 2006 after having issues retaining good drivers, Ollie made the decision to sell all but one of his trucks and go back to a single truck operation. He has worked that way ever since.

Ollie has had his share of ups and downs over the years with his trucks. A replacement engine for one of his Volvos being built from second grade used parts, repeated engine problems from a CH Mack that wouldn’t stop dropping water into the sump, and his last Scania which he says served him really well until it “threw a leg out of bed” (read: con-rod out through the side of the block) on its way to Adelaide. While Ollie says it was a good truck, $42,000 for a new, bare block from Scania along with a substantial wait time forced the truck to be sold off for parts at $25,000.

Ollie has had his current truck, an International Eagle 9900, since around 2017. “I’ve had a terrific run with it. I bought it from a bloke in Swan Hill but it was originally owned by a husband and wife team from Toowoomba who ran Brisbane to Perth with it on single trailer work. It’s got a C15 Caterpillar engine at 550hp and has been fitted out with 240-volt electrics and a good AC unit for the long cross-country trips,” Ollie says.


At 77 years of age Ollie has decided to retire and is taking it easy with just a couple of runs a month to Melbourne or Adelaide with mainly oversized lightweight loads.

“I like to keep under the escort width limit so I don’t get held back by time restrictions too much.”

The faithful Eagle and trailer are now up for sale and Ollie is just biding his time until a buyer is found. The job is getting a bit technical for Ollie who admits the technology challenges him at times. I guess all the bytes and bits necessary for operating a trucking business in the modern transport world are a far cry from manning the deck of a small boat on the fjords of Norway in the 1950s.

The time it seems would be right for Ollie to hang up his blue singlet.

Photography: Warren Caves

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