28th November 2021 Two funny things.

Goodaye all, a fairly big week, linehaul and doing change overs don’t go so well together, but got it done legal and luckily, no real dramas. The closure of Edgar St might have caught me out and that one error, could have really spoiled the day, but luckily went the back way and whilst possibly slower than using the ringroad, turned out OK.

Tried to go to sleep, but got a call about another delay with the new truck and that set my mind to overthinking and overplanning and then I could not sleep, so read, had a light tea and got half way home and then went to bed and slept well.

Now home for a quick visit, do audiobooks, make lists, overthink and plan some more and try to make things happen over which I have little control and many others involved that make it like trying to juggle while being juggled, but I have a plan and back up, but still have to co-ordinate many others and hope it works.

Two funny things happened after last weeks post, in which I may have got a bit maudlin, but espoused the view you must keep trying. Got to have breakfast and discuss next years NRFA AGM and that looks good and on the path to a good plan. But someone thinks I do this to get something for me and then I had a note on a toilet door offering my number for a good time. Thanks to the driver who thought it a step too far and had it removed. At least it did mention National Road Freighters, so I think it came from a radio listener. If you have the balls to own up, happy to hear from you what your grievances are!

But having now tried to fit in 8 hours stuff into 5, have to run. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


21st November 2021 Happy Birthday daughter Kelly for during the week and take care Chris.

Goodaye all, a quick visit home for my daughters birthday, most of the family around, a few drinks and then find a bed. You often wonder how it all worked when we had 7 all at home? Now when they all visit, the bunks are all gone and with partners and kids, the house is not big enough. But they are all unique individuals and the best that has come from my life.

I have actually seen the new TIV through the fence, it has made it to Wagga for some work, but still has to get to Brisbane for the remainder, so a few weeks yet. Did some changeovers during the week, hard to transition into from normal linehaul, and worse when you have to try and fit in drops and reloading, but with some luck and help got it all done, so stopped and had a good sleep on the way home Friday night.

Still managed an online meeting with the NTC and two others from NRFA, we will submit some suggestions for hours and have specifically sought to be involved in the review that will occur for penalties etc with the new HVNL when it comes.

Had another hook up with Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds, involved with the Gold Standard Rest are project with another NRFA member and have to send a position to the NRFA board for approval and then to them, (next job).

Also a hook up with Freight NSW who are working on some rest areas in NSW and that is welcome news for the future. I even ran out of green reflectors during the week, so will have to restock. So having come back to work to smooth my way back in, have now had I think, four or five days home in nearly 6 weeks. Lucky I am taking it easy!!!!!!!!

I even got to listen to the ABC evenings one night who did an interview with Health in Gear CEO Darren Black and even replayed it on Saturday, discussing drivers and surviving on the road at the moment. Asking for some empathy and recognition of the task we have done, recognising we are all flat out and will likely be till well after Christmas.

I must say it has been a bit of a lonely return. One of my mates of many years has been unwell and off the road. We used to speak each week when he was on the road, the usual solving of all our own and the industries and worlds problems, not that we fixed anything, but he was always a good sounding board and often kicked me along when I was getting frustrated with one thing or another. Our longest phone chat was well over 3 hours and I would like to think we helped one another survive on the road. I wish him all the best, take care Chris.

This has been my new home for the last 6 weeks. It is a 2003 I think from the fuel tanks, K104, one of two Rod Pilon bought new at the time. Next year with be 50 years of RPT and I cannot thank Rod and all there enough for their support. I used to say to those who asked, there is stuff on this truck, (the last TIV) that Rod does not even know about, simply because I was given a fairly free hand to add things from my sponsors. The other comment I often made when asked about the trailer curtains (and some even said” Who stitched you up with those, you won’t be able to hide anywhere with them?”) was, “I designed them and how many company owners would let a driver do that?”

So having seen the new truck, I want to thank all who have hassled me as well as those who have thanked me, more the later than the former. But to those who whinge, much more behind my back than to my face I am told by others, I say, instead of whinging about what I do, do something to make a difference yourself. Some have whinged, why do I write for Owner Driver, or speak on the radio, or have such a nice truck? Alll of these have come from making an effort and there are only a small percentage of those I speak with who have any remote idea, how much time behind the scenes goes into all this stuff.

I wish in ten minutes a week I could do all this, but it takes hours each day and perhaps even hundreds of hours a month to keep it all going. I offer this not to show about me, but to show none of it pays me anywhere near the time and effort my family have given up and lost. There are times when you sit and think, is it worth it? The cost is not just money and effort, it is and becomes your life. The cost to your family is inestimable and can never be recovered or repaid and as with others I thank, they deserve even more thanks for the support given and the completely over the top allowances made for what I do, above driving full time. Thank you to my family. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


14th November 2021 A week-end in Rocky.

Goodaye all, another week-end in Central Queensland, now in Rocky till I can load Monday. There has been some serious rain up here (and even at home so I hear) and roads were closed, but I seem to have followed much of it and can see where it has been, but not been delayed or directly affected as yet.

Earlier in the week on my way to Sydney to unload, I pulled into Willow Tree to find a driver who has recently joined NRFA, then after loading and on my way out stopped at Quirindi for fuel and ended up speaking with another driver who was a Nightshift listener and whilst still incognito in my EH Holden, Mission Brown RPT K104, can find drivers passionate about the job.

The new one has been completed in Melbourne, but like all things, there is now a delay to get it to Wagga and then Brisbane. I am chomping at the bit to get in it and get it working.

Funny watching the news, they are saying water restrictions in SE Qld in the new year, but I asked a driver where all the water was coming from out through Gunnedah and the dam was overfull and had to have water released. If only we could control the weather? I have cleaned out all the toolboxes, one each stop, rang some of my children, the rest tonight, so a quick cab clean, visit the local supermarket and maybe Bunnings for a look, then into a good book.

I rang and left a message for my first employer, from when I was 15 as he lives up this way, as does my brother in-law and also a couple of NRFA colleagues and Tony rang me back about 5.30AM to see what I was doing. We had spoken on the phone when his son saw me on the road and had got my contact number from Owner Driver, but had not seen one another for perhaps, 40 years.

He picked me up and we went and had breakfast and then went for a drive. When I was 15, I left school due to my Mum leaving home, lots to say, but a long time ago, and when I saw this big flash frig van just down the road from home with a yellow boomerang on the side, I had to go and say hello. That led me to turning up one Monday morning after leaving school, and asking, “Do you need anyone to help?” I was told no, but I stayed for the week and on Friday Tony gave me $25 and said I had a job.

I have said before I drove my first roadtrain at 16, but also my first semi, a quad box Mack before that. Tony was running to Mt Isa, sold out to Frigmobile when I was 16, but did arrange a job there for me and I started doing the Mt Isa orders, then went onto loading trucks, driving forklifts in the freezer rooms and when I turned 17, driving rigids and having to stick my “P” plates on with tape, each time I went out. In the end I was doing country runs, but then we had a dispute over a truck and I went to work for Inghams Chickens doing mainly KFC stores and put on a couple of kilo eating all that good chicken and chips we were often offered each day.

From there it was to Luya Julius, will cover life there another day, they were bought out by Finemores and they were then bought out by Toll. I left after 29 years continuous service, when I could not find anyone there who would support my road safety ideas. I wanted a fair bit, obviously more than most drivers ask for and in my second meeting with the hierarchy in Sydney, was told by upper Toll management, “We can’t afford that”, so I left.

In someways a ballsy (read stupid, overconfident etc if you wish) move and I did have to eat humble pie and go back for a short time, but from my point of view (having had both Finemores and Toll on national TV, having won the ATA Driver of the Year just as Toll had taken over) was not treated fairly, but that may have simply been personality issues with my boss of the time? I applied to over 30 companies, who most often did not even reply or told me, they would love to have me as a driver, but could not support my road safety efforts or aims.

And so having detailed in each job application my aim to be a driver like all others for 10 months of the year, but that I wanted them to provide a truck to promote the road transport industry and road safety, I wanted them to allow me to attend events with their truck, but offered my holidays as well to cover some of that time. Surprisingly, none jumped at my offer? I needed someone who had some skin in the game, had to be small enough to care, have some passion and respect for the industry that had hopefully looked after them and their family, but big enough that one truck going to events etc would not be too harmful.

The rest as they say is history and one day, I will write a book and it will have lots of pictures of the TIV in its’ many guises. So back to the roadhouse and last time I was up here went and had tea with my brother in-law and his family (another tanker driver now) and did contact TMR about green reflectors and the lack of rubbish bins opposite the then Caltex and now Ampol. The stands are still there for the bins, but no bins and I did get a reply saying the area was to be done up and it would be addressed then. Of course, there are those who will walk across the road and deposit any rubbish in the bins there and those who won’t. Surely it would be better to have had the bins there for the last 6 months, but we are only truck drivers, what would we know? But guess who will get another call after I load Monday? Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.


7th November 2021 Truckstops, roads and rest areas.

Goodaye all, finally made it home yesterday, two weeks living in the truck nothing to those who do Perth etc or as in the USA, go away for months at a time, but they either have a house for a sleeper, or far better truckstops and facilities than we mostly do! Now a couple of blokes had a go at me for stopping in the roadhouse parking area. Seems I can’t win. Yes I had to have a 24 hour break, so where can you do your washing, get food and have a toilet and shower available. Many want such things when on a break, why can’t I?

Whilst I was there on a Saturday/Sunday, I never saw trucks have to leave because there was nowhere to park, but it was chockers when I went back Tuesday night to fuel, on my way out again. It has been an interesting week, lousy roads up that way, both the highways and into mine sites, some good rest areas, some useless and some big spaces between either.

Had to do a changeover at Moree Thursday night, been in Qld for nearly ten days and two hours into NSW and back, only stepped foot in the parking bay and spoke with one driver, but had to wait at the border for my test result to get back into Qld. Seems Victoria do not require any tests now, but a different pass, so we will see what Qld end up doing. Again, why seven sets of rules?

One thing I have noticed is a proliferation of STOPPING Bays, yet most of them are useless and of course, the authorities will say, we have provided them for you, so why whinge. It is like parking bays, it is all well and good to build something so they can say they have, it is another to actually get what you need and the third part is value for money. No matter what it has cost, whose idea, plan or scheme it is, if it does not provide for those it is intended to serve, then it is at the least a waste of money and at the worst, a completely missed opportunity.

Many months ago during a phone call to one of the serious government agencies who look into roads and their uses, I raised this issue. Do we have national guideline s for Stopping Bays, is it legal to sleep in them, who designs them and what are they actually intended to do and or provide? I was told there would have to be a study, but why? Why can’t someone simply see what is currently being done and propose a national set of standards, design principles and guidelines? Who are they for, what do they intend to provide and then why are there ten in a row (one place I saw, the next was within sight of the last, what a ridiculous waste of money) then nothing for hundreds of kilometres!

This is why we need a national rest area strategy. Why then will none of the other industry associations support this as part of the NRFA 6 point plan? Natroad have come out saying there should be money for rest areas, absolutely, but where, what style etc? Will any of the Natroad board ever sleep in one, I doubt it, so how will they use this money if it ever gets allocated. Will we again see stuff done with good intent and lousy delivery? I am very frustrated with roads and rest areas, the money spent badly, the money not spent at all and yet we are not only expected to manage our fatigue and comply, we are severely punished if we don’t. How can you win? When you have the answer, let me know. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.