Owen’s legacy lives on despite business closure of Ringrose Transport and Gulf Wholesale Services

TIME TO RETIRE: Chris Mitchell, Joanne Ringrose, Ralph Virubose, Trish Ringrose, Phillip Ryan, Debbie Lewis (top), Des Joseph and Nathan Abdy.

TIME TO RETIRE: Chris Mitchell, Joanne Ringrose, Ralph Virubose, Trish Ringrose, Phillip Ryan, Debbie Lewis (top), Des Joseph and Nathan Abdy.

After nearly 20 years of business, a Mount Isa-based freight transport company will no longer continue its service to the Gulf region.

Ringrose Transport and sister company Gulf Wholesale Supplies, will close its doors on December 1, after Owen and Trish Ringrose started the business with a single prime mover and two trailers back in 1998.

The business was established after Owen Ringrose saw a need to provide residents in the Gulf with the services of the city.

Ringrose Transport introduced the first fridge van to the Gulf, supplying fruits, vegetables and frozen goods to the region. The business grew from there.

“Once we started a reliable, friendly, weekly service, it didn’t take long for our business to grow, as all residents in the Gulf required our services,” Trish said. 

“Our customers quickly learned that we were different to most transport companies in that we cared about them and appreciated the fact they lived remotely, as we ourselves had lived in Fiji and the Solomon Islands and had experienced isolated living.

“When the business was at its boom we had expanded the company to see six road trains going out every week, supplying anything and everything – except animals.

“The boom continued for four years while the commodity and cattle prices were high. What killed it was when they stopped the cattle trade overnight. That really affected the farmers which in turn affected us.”

Despite this causing an immediate downturn in the business, Ringrose Transport pulled through and continued to service the Gulf each week.

The wet season also posed a challenge for Ringrose Transport, with many unsealed roads and crossings causing delays. 

“The challenge for Owen, was to get from Point A to Point B in all types of weather,” Trish said.

“Sometimes this meant sitting bogged in the middle of the road for several days waiting for the road to dry out, so Owen could continue into Doomadgee to deliver their supplies.

“During the wet season the SES would rely on him to coordinate the whole trip from Mount Isa. He would then get in the truck and drive to Gregory where he would load a plane, that would fly to Doomadgee and return to Gregory repeatedly until all the emergency supplies were into Burketown and Doomadgee.

“More recently when the road was sealed, creeks and rivers would sill pose a threat. 

“Owen would get to Burketown, and organise the SES to float the freight across in boats and pack it into another truck that was already stuck on the other side.

“He wouldn’t think twice about it, but always made sure the freight still made it to town.”

Owen Ringrose passed away from cancer in March 2017 at the age of 67. 

Owen Ringrose.

Owen Ringrose.

Married to Trish Ringrose for 45 years, the couple built the business up from nothing and ran it together servicing more than 400 loyal customers over the years, in the Gulf region and Northern Territory. 

A lot of these customers have since become friends, and Trish would like to thank them for their loyalty and support.

“Operating a business like this requires team work and Owen and I were fortunate enough to recruit the best staff anyone could wish for, who always became like family.  

“When Owen got sick we had to travel to Brisbane and it meant I was back and forth all the time while he was in hospital. 

“Our staff at the time - Tamara, Ralph, Phil, Dale and Steve along with our two daughters Joanne and Debbie, continued to run our business smoothly- we couldn’t have done it without them. 

Gulf Wholesale Supplies manager Debbie Lewis and assistant Steve Borthwick. Photo supplied.

Gulf Wholesale Supplies manager Debbie Lewis and assistant Steve Borthwick. Photo supplied.

“I will be forever grateful for their dedication and loyalty to us, especially through this tough time last year, with the addition of Des and Chris this year. 

“Our son Bill in New Zealand also played an important role in supporting us through this most difficult time.

“I would also like to say thank you to the many suppliers and companies we dealt with in Mount Isa, Townsville and Brisbane. It has been very challenging co-ordinating freight from many places to finally reach our customers on our trucks.

“Mount Isa has been good to us I would like to say thank you to the many friends we have made over the years. I will certainly cherish the many memories.”

Trish has now made the decision to close Ringrose Transport and Gulf Wholesale Supplies and sell off the machinery and yard.

Trish will leave Mount Isa and retire to the south-east coast, where she plans to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.