One hundred and ten years ago, the shores of Sydney welcomed the very first Caterpillar tractors from the Holt Manufacturing company to arrive in Australia. Disassembled down to their smallest pieces to fit through the narrowest of Australian countryside tunnels, the Holt Caterpillar 60 was taken by train to Young, which lies between our Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst branches. They conducted a demonstration that showcased how these superior tracks could handle the sticky and wet red dirt, highlighting how capable and adapt they were for the land in Australia.

It didn’t take long for these tractors to skyrocket in popularity in Australia.

back in the day

The Gough and Gilmour Era

On April 15 1925, Holt Manufacturing Company and C.L. Best Tractor Co. merged to create Caterpillar Tractor Company, starting a legacy that will turn 100 years old next year. While William Adams started out on April 16 1926 as the NSW Cat dealer for the first 9 years, Waugh and Josephson became the Caterpillar Dealer for NSW and ACT on June 18 1934 and looked after the Caterpillar needs of those in NSW for over 55 years, before signing over to Gough and Gilmour on Feb 20 1989.

“I used to drive by the field service build pad at Newcrest Cadia (assembling 793C, 994 etc) and thought you would have to be so smart and talented to work for the Caterpillar Dealer” – Rodney Mudford"

Photo: Taken 1996 at Gough and Gilmour; "I was working for DML at the Cumnock & Mt Owen mines." - Chris Carpenter


The WesTrac Era

WesTrac became the official Caterpillar Dealer for NSW/ACT on Friday 9 April 2004. Ryan and Kerry Stokes were joined by Chris Curfman, (the managing director of marketing for Caterpillar's Asia Pacific Division), Doug Oberhelman (CFO and eventually CEO of Caterpillar), Peter Gammell (Seven Group Holdings Director) and seven others as they signed the official documents.

Growing immediately in every aspect, WesTrac opened its doors at the Wetherill Park headquarters on Good Friday with just fifty team members, and expanded to more than five hundred team members in just two months. The construction of our first purpose-built branch began immediately, with our Dubbo facility beginning construction in May to capitalise on the region being a major transport hub for the central west.

"My first day at WesTrac was spent at Neil Roberts house for a meeting, as we did not have a branch to go to at that time. One of my biggest achievements was assisting the setup of Bathurst Branch in 2004 , it had been previously used as a manufacturing / boiler making shop, when the previous owner vacated, we had to install everything, e.g. air compressor and all lines around workshop etc.”- David Furbank

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the early years

The Mining Boom

In the early years, the mining team were busy winning the underground hard rock mining customers at Cobar (which was then being serviced by Cavpower / Cavill Mining Services), selling and delivered the 789 and ancillary fleet to Barrick at Lake Cowal (a fleet which is still operating today) and was winning opportunities that arose in the Hunter Valley.

In the period between 2006 – 2013, WesTrac sold and delivered over 500 machines to customers such as BHP, Rio Tinto, Coal and Allied, Xstrata Coal, Vale, Peabody, Whitehaven, The Bloomfield Group and others that effectively doubled the installed Caterpillar equipment as our customers brought on line greenfield projects and/or brownfield expansions of their mine assets. It was during this period that WesTrac delivered their first 797F (largest mining truck in the world at that time); 795F (largest Cat electric drive truck at that time); and through the Bucyrus acquisition the first 6090 Hydraulic Mining Shovel (largest hydraulic mining shovel in the world).

Photo: The Hunter Valley team, showing off their first delivery of a Cat D9R Track Type Tractor, delivered to Hunter Valley Earthmoving for the Liddell Open Cut operation.

big change

The Acquisition

In 2012, Caterpillar’s acquisition of the Bucyrus business meant WesTrac added the underground coal, highwall miner, dragline, electric rope shovel, hydraulic mining shovel, drills and material handling products to the portfolio. Caterpillar has divested a number of those businesses over time, including the recent transfer of longwall product to HBT.

Today we sell and support the products that have been integrated into the Caterpillar product range, including hydraulic mining shovels and drills, with the old Bucyrus draglines now parked in region. More than 16,375 Cat machines have been purchased from and delivered by WesTrac in the last twenty years, including just over 4,000 mini excavators and 2,730 skid steer loaders.

“One memorable moment was a call from the then COO (Darren Tasker) with thanks from the board as we had just closed the Liddell Fleet deal (~$110m) in 2010, and that was the first good news post the GFC impacts in 2008”. – Glen Brown

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moving on up

The Relocation

Over the years, WesTrac has relocated and opened new offices to ensure we are best placed to service our customers. A notable change occurred in late 2009 when we re-located our head office to Holroyd in Paramatta, a move that allowed us to continue to grow while we planned our next move. Prior to 2012, we had four locations around the Hunter Valley that each handled separate business functions, including our Thornton location which was the Parts hub for the state.

After years of planning, we built the state-of-the-art facilities at Tomago that houses multiple branches which were previously spread across the region. Without this investment, we would not be the business we are today. Over the years, many new branches have opened or relocated to allow for the expansion of our operations. In 2018, we relocated from Parramatta to Casula to be in a more convenient location for our customers with modern facilities for our team members. Last year we welcomed Coffs Harbor and celebrated as Tweed Head moved to new facilities.

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full coverage

The Current Footprint

Today, WesTrac NSW/ACT has 18 local branches, six Click and Collect parts locker locations, six mine sites with resident WesTrac labour, three storefronts, and more than 1,500 dedicated team members, providing swift and effective service to more than 6,500 customers each year.

“I remember working in western NSW and having to use a pay phone (we didn’t have mobiles, they weren’t invented yet) to reverse call Dubbo branch to order parts to be delivered, to now being able to live chat, Bluetooth with machines etc”. – Michael Geale

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future is now

The Next 20 Years

There’s been plenty of success over the last twenty years that we are immensely proud of. Despite setbacks along the way, WesTrac has always been able to come back stronger than ever and invest in the future of the business. Over the last twenty years, we’ve grown to become the #2 dealer as measured by performance in the Asia Pacific region, and our base of 1,500 team members across 25 branches, mines, and stores over NSW and ACT serve over 6,500 customers each year.

“The past 20 years has seen so many changes in the way that we do business, the work platforms that we use, improvements in team culture, a huge reduction in use of paper and physical record keeping, huge leaps in technology.” – Tracey Fardell

Photo: Our Tomago headquarters for NSW/ACT. Image by Daniel Cousins

Tomago sunrise.jpg


Maintaining our strong position, we’ve been continually setting ourselves up to grow into the future and strengthen our offerings. With heavy investments in new technologies with the implementation of the autostore, opening of the new TECX and Oil Lab, investments in electrification, and the overhaul of Mt Thorley allowing us to maximise customer support and machine rebuilds, we are confident the next twenty years will be just as successful as our first twenty.

Thank you to all of our team members past and present, our customers, and local communities who have joined us for our journey and helped WesTrac succeed in NSW and ACT over the last twenty years. We couldn’t have done it without you all.

Article collated by:

  • Michael Geale
  • Glen Brown
  • Gavin Handley
  • David Pilton
  • Gregory Crabb
  • Lauren Moulton

Images Submitted by:

  • Dave Pilton
  • Tracey Fardell
  • John Hukka
  • Paul Graham
  • Gavin Handley
  • Cameron Stuart,

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