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.

By truckright

An Australian truckie aiming to improve both how the road transport industry is seen and understood by the public and to improve road safety for all.

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