This year's Oracles of the Bush event has the theme 'Driving Passion'. So it's fitting that the Oracles 2022 Legend is Gavin Hillier, who is the perfect complement to it.
On Thursday evening the induction took place at Tenterfield Transport Museum.
Gavin has been associated with the motor vehicle industry in Tenterfield for 50 years and through his business, Border Panel Works and personally has contributed much back to the community of Tenterfield.
Border Panel Works was all but destroyed by fire in 2006. Gavin was motivated by the overwhelming response from the community to re-build and start again.
Gavin is semi-retired but that doesn't mean he spends a lot of time at home.
A quick trip down the street is a fantasy. It is more like a couple hours because he pops in to check on a mate to give them a hand or simply have a chat! Gavin does love a yarn. He is easy to talk to about his business ventures but chatting about the person behind the business faade is not as easy.
In the early 80's as his two boys started to hit their teens Gavin was keen for them to get behind the wheel. But first, they needed a safe environment to learn to drive and appreciate the responsibility a vehicle brings.
He tried unsuccessfully to establish a car track in Tenterfield. Feeling frustrated he became involved with the struggling Carnell Raceway in Stanthorpe. In 1985 he joined forces with Stanthorpe local, Ron Wilson.
They pooled their skills, sweat and passion and breathed life back into the struggling club. Buildings were constructed and a drag strip established. They put their necks on the line by guaranteeing club loans to clear debts.
The hard work paid off and the club flourished. Carnell Raceway had a twofold purpose, firstly as a race track but also a training facility.
Most weekends Gavin could be found with his boys at the track.
Much to his delight, he has recently introduced his grandchildren to the track in Sprint Racing with the Warwick & Stanthorpe Short Circuit Clubs and has proudly prepared and painted a "Junior Club Car" for less fortunate kids to use and experience Sprint Racing first hand.
Behind the scenes Gavin is a strong supporter of sporting and community groups. He does love a good auction and is known to have trouble controlling his finger at charity auctions.
One of his favourite charities is the Westpac Helicopter which he generously supports. Many local sporting and community groups have been on the receiving end of Gavin's generosity.
The Hillier buses provide essential in-kind support to many organisations ensuring participants attend events and at the same time relieving financial pressure on the clubs.
The Tenterfield community is renowned for its support of families in crisis. Over time a number of special needs vehicles have been commissioned and paid for from local fundraising.
Some of these vehicles have been converted by Hillier Conversions. Conversion is complicated and expensive. Due to limited funding vehicles are often ordered with only the absolute necessary conversions. Needless to say, many have been quietly completed with extras not included in the original design or price.
Gavin has always been a well known character on the streets of Tenterfield in his trademark white overalls having a chat and giving cheek. Today he is also known for his passionate involvement in the Tenterfield Transport Museum.
As far back as 2004 local car enthusiasts had a dream to establish a transport museum in Tenterfield.
It has been a long haul and progress completely stalled for a time. These dedicated men, one of whom is Gavin, spent years negotiating to secure land for the museum. Several sites were earmarked but later discarded. Despite early disappointments the determination to succeed never waned.
Instead of marking time the decision was taken to move forward, land or no land, and fund raising began in earnest. Not accustomed to selling tickets or running sausages sizzles, Gavin and his counterparts rolled up their sleeves and raised enough money to get a loan to buy the steel framework for the shed.
Finally the current site in Francis Street was approved. The framework, however, lay in a paddock for several years until the crown lease was finally secured.
With the lease finalised work began in earnest. The plan was to proceed in three stages, paying for each stage before moving on.
Fortunately all those wood raffles had paid for the framework so the first stage was to erect it. Gavin and his fellow volunteers worked tirelessly on the site. Businesses and individuals donated their time and skills to implement the three stage plan.
Personally guaranteed loans were secured and with continued fund raising the work progressed over 10 years to where it is today. The building is substantial boasting excellent facilities including a commercial kitchen.
The museum has a number of immaculate old vehicles currently on display. Some are on loan while others have been donated.
A couple of the more interesting vehicles include previous Oracles of the Bush legend, Aub Gillespie's mint condition 1972 Volvo and a beautifully restored meat cart originally used by Tenterfield Butchery.
With the finishing touches nearing completion it is anticipated that the completed Museum will be open to the public three days a week with the view to expanding to suit the demand.
Although Gavin would not commit to how many hours he puts into the museum project, we suspect it is substantial. You can feel his passion for the project.
The passion is of course generated partly from his love of cars but largely from the desire to be part of creating a lasting asset for Tenterfield.
Oracles of the Bush Boutique Bush Poetry Festival runs from Thursday until Sunday.
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