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The inspiring story of a company that shaped a nation
By Colin J. Dennett

From humble beginnings in 1936 this Australian oil company was given little prospect of surviving. It faced one obstacle and set-back after another. But determination by its founder William Walkley and his talented team of people who served the company for many years provided great strength. Across two books filled with text and images, author Colin Dennett details this important and fascinating part of Australian history.

Ampol is now in its 88th year and owned by Australians. Colin Dennett has had a life-long interest in Ampol although having never worked directly in the oil industry. He has managed to bring together rare, unseen photos of Ampol’s early years, colourful memorabilia and insider yarns - enriching this historical account to make it a fascinating read.

Colin Dennett’s original 288 pages book (40 pages in colour) serves as a handy reference for anyone interested in Australia’s Ampol. Expanding on this first book, there is now a newly released book titled Postscript Chapter 10, containing 106 pages of additional history and uncirculated photos. In total, these two books provide 394 pages of valuable imagery and records related to Ampol’s commercial, social history and industrial architecture. Together, these books are the perfect companion not only for oil industry enthusiasts but all those who are interested in Australia’s industrial achievements.


author introduction: Colin dennett

Colin J. Dennett

I was born and raised in Sydney where my family has lived since 1867. My great, great grandfather Henry Dennett, who had been in business as a draper in Poole, Dorset (UK), brought his son Newnham, aged fifteen years, with him to Australia to seek better opportunities. I am pleased he did as 100 years later in 1967, with a B.Ec. from Sydney University, I joined the Commonwealth Public Service. From 1971–80 I worked in the Trade Practices Commission (TPC), gaining valuable industry experience including first-hand exposure to the oil and fuel industry.

The rapid expansion of petrol retailing in the 1950s, coupled with widespread advertising and promotion, has left lasting impressions on me. Ampol and Golden Fleece seemed to project a spirit and culture of Australia which deeply resonated with me. Few people at that time would have had much understanding, if any, of the complexities of the oil industry and what companies like Ampol, Golden Fleece and C.O.R. were all about. It would be many years later before I would understand more fully what was happening during that period of rapid growth and expansion that saw them grow into the companies we have come to know. This fascinating historical account has been years in the making which I hope readers will enjoy. With a personal interest in both social and industrial history I have produced other publications along life’s journey but the history of Ampol has long been on my radar, and the years of research and investigations have been a wonderfully interesting and absorbing project. These two books on Ampol fulfil a passion for telling a positive and authentic story about our country, some of our people and the many contributions some have made. The history of the Ampol company reveals much about the kind of people we are and the culture of our times.

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