Mortlake Dispatch
Looking back on five decades of business

MORTLAKE mechanic Brian Woolley has looked back on more than five decades of servicing the district with fond memories ahead of his retirement next month.

He started working in the service station component of his father George’s business at just 17 years of age 54 years ago.

Mr Woolley’s father had moved the family to Mortlake from their dairy farm at Purnim in 1960 to manage an International Harvester dealership in the town.

He later procured the Woolley Motors site, which was a bus depot belonging to Frank Silver.

Along with his younger brother as his apprentice and another of his brothers helping, Mr Woolley said they “worked (their) backsides off”.

“It was just an empty shed at the time,” he said.

Another loyal supporter of the business has been Kelly Henderson, who walked in off the street looking for a job about 34 years ago.

Mr Woolley said he was “a very special guy” and had become his right-hand man and the “second-in-charge”.

He sold the service station component to the United Retail Group (Riordan Fuels) in 2004.

Mr Woolley said the requirements to repair a car had seen a “huge” change since he first started.

“They’re all computers these days,” he said.

While the overall quality had increased over the years, the mechanics of a car had become dependent on up to 20 computers, according to Mr Woolley.

Mr Woolley said he would miss his loyal customers once he leaves the business.

“I’ve had a lot of fun,” he said.

“99 per cent of the people have been fantastic.

“There have been some really nice people.”

Mr Woolley said his last day would likely be Christmas Eve, before moving out to help at his brother-in-law’s farm in Purnim next year, as well as volunteering with the Riding for the Disabled Association Terang.

However, he said he hoped someone would come forward to take over the garage.

“A young bloke coming in, he could make a lot of money,” Mr Woolley said.

“It’ll be fantastic for the town.”

He said despite trying to seek a buyer, there had been little interest and it would be a shame to see the business close and years of knowledge lost.

“All us old buggers, we’ve all gone,” Mr Woolley said.

“The next generation is not coming along to take our place.

“You can’t buy (50-plus years of knowledge) in a car manual.

“We were brought up really tough, money wasn’t grown on trees and there were six kids in the family.”

He said the new owner would have to excel in both the operational and administrative sides of the business.

Mr Woolley thanked the Mortlake and district community for 54 years of support.