28th February 2021 A Moree focus.

Goodaye all, this week a Newell Highway and specifically Moree area focus. Back on this goat track, geez I missed it, the road to the Isa is not that much better in places, but neither can touch the roads in the West I have travelled on recently.

In raising a number of issues at the Newell Highway Taskforce meeting, I also got to ask some questions of other attendees. I asked about the toilet at Gurley, why is it half in the parking bay and closed already. It seems the adjacent land is owned by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and they flat refused to allow any use of their land. Thanks a lot.

Now again, we might think it then should have been simply moved along a bit, but the problem with it now closed, is due to the height and it floods. Anyone who has ever parked there in the rain, would have expected that. It is being addressed, just a pity money has been wasted, or we could have had another toilet built for use somewhere even better.

I was told that Tycannah Creek rest area is to be upgraded and have followed up asking to see the plans. That bay is one if not the only one with decent shade, certainly in that neck of the woods and whilst they will add a toilet, I fear they will destroy the shade and I will be fighting against that. I will be asking them to consider building an additional site and leaving Tycannah as it is. I would welcome your thoughts.

The next problem is the parking around the Puma at Moree. We certainly welcomed it there and it gets full quickly, much worse in harvest and many have been parking in the streets surrounding it. Now technically it is illegal, but council have been ignoring it till now, for two reasons. The first is that a village will be built on the adjoining land for Inland Rail workers, so it will have a large population increase in the area and they will have vehicles and people coming and going for the next few years.

The second problem is what I want to seek input on. In discussions with council, they raised the problem of piss bottles being thrown and left full on the land and then people defecating there as well. It got to the point, that they were getting complaints from locals and their workers complained about the issue of cleaning it up and this stuff being hit by mowers etc. Council agreed to then leave the grass grow, please remember again, they could have policed the one hour parking, but have not since the site opened, but then some shit on the road and left full piss bottles there as well.

So thanks to the untidy lazy and stupid idiots who can’t walk to the servo and or empty a pee bottle etc, we will lose anther parking area and have pissed off the council and those who have to clean up after them. We are all getting older and we know good food is hard to come by and sometimes bad food has repercussions you must act on fast, but to do this when the servo has a functioning toilet less than mostly 200 or 300 metres away, is not just a disgrace, it is simply pathetic.

When the idiots who do this next want a toilet or place to park, they will whinge and sook that we don’t have places and we all know that is true now. So what chance have I got in asking for more, when people behave this way? I would like your views please.

The Puma has had to close the showers due to lousy building and the site I am told is sinking and cracking pipes. Bad work has had us affected again, yet if we can’t even pee etc without making a mess for others, no wonder we are struggling to get decent facilities for truckies. What can we do to change this?

NHVR will be holding a discussion group for drivers and farmers at the Puma at Moree next Tuesday, 2nd March from 10 AM till 6 PM. The Moree Council Road Safety Officer has provided some funds to give out meal vouchers to drivers who attend and make a reasonable effort to participate towards better road safety outcomes for all. I have spoken with the council RSO re the issues raised above as mentioned, but would like to thank them for this effort as well. It is the first time I am aware of such a gesture. Safe Travelling Rod Hannifey.

22nd February 2021 A triple to Mt Isa.

Goodaye all, it is hot here in Mt Isa and I have just finished helping unload the three trailers I brought up as a triple roadtrain. I was asked by a driver last night, “What are you doing up this way?” and then followed up with ”I haven’t seen you with a triple on much” and then another who offered me to come round his quad with my triple, as he was turning off a bit further up and I asked did he know about the green reflectors?

He said he had seen them and thought that someone had used them to mark a parking bay, so I explained the aims and intents of the simple idea and why they are there. These sites are paved and big enough for a triple or quad at 53.5 metres long, but in the dark, they were not marked in any way, so by the time you see them you simply cannot just hit the brakes and pull in at a gross weight of 100 tonne or more with the quads.

Now the drivers of these rigs still need to have a pee at times, they have to deal with wildlife on the road and if they hit one, they need to be able to stop and inspect for damage, they might need a break or kip to get to the next rest area and there are some big gaps between Longreach, Winton and Cloncurry.

So it has been a wild start to the year, Port Hedland and have any of you seen the damage wrought there behind us, roads completely washed away by cyclones and we were so lucky to have beaten the first cyclone, let alone the two more that followed and did all the damage.

I have received a corporate response from AMPOL, saying it is all commercial and thank you for my contact and please keep in touch, of course I am paraphrasing a bit, but from where I sit, it was a fob off. Now if they were to say we closed it being a Caltex and are refurbishing and reopening as an Ampol, then we are all happy to get better facilities and new sites to use, but no, so they will get another email.

A little bit of playing photographer while on my 24 hour break in Brisbane.

Again playing photographer, this in a parking bay north of Kynuna. You can see the triple going southbound and mine is 53 meters long as well. Please consider a UHF radio if you are going to travel into remote Australia and for your sake and ours, do not attempt to overtake a ROADTRAIN without sufficient roadspace and vision.

Same goes for Revenue NSW, they have refused my review, even with photos of my Teletrac Navman system, which cannot be tampered with without showing those changes and where and when they were done, so I have asked for a second review. Watch this space.

In this roughly 2000 k trip from Brisbane to Mt Isa, I have only had one real incident. A motorhome decided to overtake me and considering he had been there a while and I was 53 metres long and near 100 tonne travelling at about 90 kph, there are not a lot of safe places to overtake. However old mate decided to have a go, but with less than one k of road visible, he’s off. He finally got past me as the broken lines end and we approached a blind corner. After getting a friendly wave from the female partner as they passed the cab, I showed my dismay and concern for his safety and mine by trying to burn a hole in the back of his van. Less than 30 seconds later, a 4wd ute came the other way. Had he been 25 seconds earlier, it would have been not just interesting, it could have been life threatening.

Then the bloke behind him decided to pass, at least he did it with k’s of empty road in front, but did so at 91 kph, taking more than a kilometre to get past and then within 30 minutes, I was gaining on him, he had slowed, I had not speed up, so why pass me in the first place? With a little bit of light, he moved away and left me behind, but it can be a lonely road up this way. Last time before Christmas, leaving Cloncurry nearing sunset, I think I saw four trucks and two cars, all going north with not a vehicle going my way in well over four hours on the road.

Have to get some sleep to load and hit the road tomorrow, hope to be back in Brissie Thursday and home Friday or Saturday, for a special day, Monday. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

14th February 2021 Some good and some bad.

Goodaye all, today we have some good news and some bad news. Or do we have news that is bad and then news that is worse and no matter how I string it, I will piss off someone and not just someone, but some seriously big players in our lives on the road.

I got a ticket from a Police officer, a random (or was it?) stop, looked till he found something, would not listen to my explanation, or let me look at what he was charging me for, then I wrote with details and photos which I believe exonerate me from the offence. So from my point of view, I have not committed an offence, I may have made a clerical error, but have backed up my view and so now to court. A $450 fine for exceeding driving hours by up to 15 minutes, which I dispute and my logbook and EWD confirm, but no warning, no consideration of my record and no way is the alleged offence worthy of such a penalty. Even more so when I then had a 7 and a quarter hour break.

Why are the police allowed to fine us for transport law they are not correctly taught to understand? Why can they work a double shift and get paid overtime and then charge us a ridiculous penalty for a minor breach? Why are we cheated out our weeks wages by someone that is not able to be overseen by a stand alone third party? From my view, with the HVNL being overseen by the NHVR, I have no problem being stopped and inspected and if treated fairly, getting a ticket if I am wrong or in breach of something regarding safety, not just my own, but that of other road users as well.

Then I have heard from two other drivers within days of the review, rejecting and saying they cannot withdraw the penalty (a complete lie) of similar abuses of power and surprise, surprise, again both by Police. I will not bore you with the details here, but they will be the start of a list for the current Senate Inquiry into a Safe and Viable Road Transport industry. No wonders drivers are leaving this job and I am sure many of you have seen the release or recent mental health issues and concerns with truckies, no bloody wonder when we are treated like this. More to come.

I did get invited to attend the Newell Highway Taskforce Committee meeting in Parkes (thanks as always to RPT for helping me get there and giving me the time) and was then accepted as a member and proceeded to give a list of Newell issues. Some I have pursued previously, some will now gain some more prominence, as the RMS or whoever they are this week, was not aware of a couple, but is now and I aim to follow up with more. Having come back from the west and roads you do not see here, again I ask why?

Lastly I must welcome back AMPOL, instead of Caltex, but from a truckies view, they are coming in and going backwards at a rate of knots. Why would you take back control of the servo in Longreach and then close the bloody thing down when you now leave us with a 400k gap for any services? Closing the kitchen at Yarroweah, closing Cunnamulla altogether and telling us they have a truck network and are aiming to help us!!!!!!!!!!! Really!!!!!!!!! I have emailed them and will wait for an answer. What do you think? We are going backwards in so many ways and who of you can or will, do something? The lack of submissions to the HVNL review will leave us open to those who don’t have to live by our rules, changing them to punish, penalise and control us even more and once it is done, it will never change back and only continue to get worse, because someone else should have done it.

I am not as friendly this week as you might see. Something else I am working on has hit a couple of snags, it will still happen, but not as I hoped, planned and intended. There are not enough hours in the day and I am off to work after tea, but will keep trying and that is all I ask of any of you who care. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

6th February 2021

Goodaye all, a short note for this week after the long WA trip instalments. Thanks to all who commented and said they enjoyed it. The workshop found the shifter for the AMT was producing the codes, not the harness and I thought I was getting another day off and whilst they had a new one picked up out of Melbourne, I ended up going down in another truck, supposedly as passenger but ended up driving (thanks for tea and lunch Jack) and picking another one up, to go back to Dubbo.

Back in mine Wednesday, took part in the “Stop the Bridge” convoy in Dubbo with the long term aim to procure a by-pass for Dubbo, instead of a bridge that is said will stop flooding of the Newell, but from all accounts won’t, so why have something that will not provide a solution.

I got a call on the way home from WA from a mechanic in Bundaberg who asked me about suzi coils. He said he had been called out to a crash where the suzi coil had been pinched and the trailer brakes had failed. He then asked a number of drivers and 8 out of ten did not really know what the suzi coil lines did and I find that a bit scary.

Years ago I had another tow truck operator contact me following major crash involving a fuel tanker and it was found the push/pull air connections had failed. Now I have certainly seen suzi coils rubbing on checkerplate and they can be damaged when pulled too far or get caught when going round corners, but when you think about it, how often are they checked, unless they fail or you hear an air leak and now with many trucks fitted with park brake alarms, you can’t check the trailer brakes for air leaks without the horn blaring.

Have any of you had either of these problems, are you even aware of the issue and will you check your suzi coils and the air connections, next time you hook up?  Normally you will know when the connections are getting worn, they will feel loose and or leak, but you can only check when air is applied.  To link the two problems, the Bundaberg fellow has twice now, when explaining the problem and having checked and found no leaks, pulled the air connections to ensure they are OK, had them come off in his hand. He also said some drivers did not know you must turn them to lock them away from the hook up alignment. It is both an issue with a possible lack of training for new drivers and complacency with older ones.

A couple of you commented on a need for a new horse and yes, it was a bugger of a couple of weeks. But for a truck now nearing ten years old, traveled close to 2 million k, mostly with b-doubles often at 67 tonne or more but with a few roadtrains and triples involved as well, it has been and continues to be, a terrific workhorse. There is not one part or panel I can think of that I have not modified or changed in some way, mostly minor and often cosmetic, but Kenworth have done a good job with the K200. That does not mean I would not welcome the chance to help them make it even better. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.