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16th January 2022 A full on week.

Goodaye all, another week of life on the road. Now those who do this will say, just another week, grow a set and get over it and others who don’t will wonder if I am telling the truth. You do know why you make plans, just so someone else can stuff them up, or you can blame Murphy. There used to be a column in a caravan magazine I wrote for, and it seemed to blame Murphy for everything. Now that may be right, but you must take some responsibility surely, don’t you, for your own actions etc?

So, knowing the current state of the transport game, you must be even more flexible than normal, we have had some changes in staff, so a few issues there, I have been towing different trailers, rather than my set and that has raised a few more and then there is that flexibility thing.

When I went home Saturday morning, getting a new logbook on the way and filling it out up to that point (well filling in the last two days of my record from when it ran out) and thinking, won’t complete today just in case, we had a plan. Load trailers Monday early in Dubbo, all good. Then I got a call there was another plan, which meant taking loaded trailers Monday, so being the ever keen driver, I texted Sunday morning and said, with the trailers loaded, I could go today and get a start. I was told no, all under control, have a rest and go Monday.

So plenty of time, but come Monday morning another new plan already, load asap and I of course, had made some plans for me before work, based on out loaded later that day. So rush into my stuff, get part done, out to work and yes load when you can, but can you take another driver to check them out? Sure, but he is still coming, then come back here and go to a completely different place than any of the earlier plans.

Now all through last week and towards this week-end, I had been working on and trying to find a way to get the new TIV back to Dubbo, allowing time to arrange completion of signwriting, so it can then be finished and registered in Dubbo. MMMM, maybe will still work, new fellow turned up, we had a chat with the Transport for NSW gents at Parkes, very nice fellows and all was good with a couple of words and discussion, then load. From last week, I had planned a phone hook up with NHVR re fatigue etc and of course, I was trying to watch and help old mate, we had a curtain jam and it was nice and warm and other trucks waiting.

Nearly loaded, started chatting, old mate finished loading, then out on the road and I kept going till nearly back at the telescope. This group, the people involved along with a couple of other groups, are seeing me hoping we will get at the least, listened to and some issues addressed this year. Back to Dubbo, drop off old mate, get some tyres done and away after 7.

Got to Mt Thorley, had a nice walk finding the place, had planned to ring and organise opening times and unloading place (not even sure we could get a b-double in there), but phone conference took  much longer and once you have someone involved and interested, you don’t normally want to let them go unless you have to.

Parked outside, thinking they will either wake me and unload me, or wake me and abuse me for being in the wrong place. Very affable and helpful chap knocked on the door, as you are in a double, just back up and will unload you from one side. That done then off to load. Again, from plan A or B or somewhere, had agreed to a local radio interview for Tuesday morn after the news and tried ringing the place I was loading as per instructions, but had not got anyone to answer. Finally they did, on the way and will meet me at the gate and did, just as I started the radio interview, so could not even really explain my rudeness in ignoring him, as I was live on air.

Finished, explained, opened up, started loading, a couple of count and product issues, but on the way to Dubbo. Rang in, where is the plan now, not sure for tomorrow, will sort later, OK thanks. Had planned to get the truck and trailers washed with some time spare, but nothing available then, so checked out (read put some more up) previously marked but now with some missing, green reflector bays on the Golden Highway. Absolutely bucketed down on the way home, glad I didn’t waste the time getting it washed, back home, service booked for the morning, then load etc.

Covid has affected staff everywhere and we were a few mechanics down etc, so asked them to ring me when done. I rang checking, yes part done, come and load, so grabbed some shopping and out. Load was two drops, but the number of pallets did not fit the easy delivery plan and some was overwidth, so a bit more space wasted, load in the sun and getting thirsty, back to the yard to top up and with different trailers again, get some more tyres done.

By the time was ready to go, late and headed off to find the highway blocked at Marsden, so go the long way round through Cowra. Now I had still been working on the “pick up the new TIV plan” as I went along, trying to co-ordinate a load that would get me up there, time to get it home and a plan to then get back to the truck.

Double split to do drops, into Melbourne to load, out and up the Hume to blow the first tyre I have done in a while. When I managed to limp up to Albury, missed the truckwash again, then they could get no one to do a call out to change it, thought bugger it, will go to bed. But then thinking, its cooler and if I go to bed here, this will mean the end of the plan, so ran a bit further up the road, still round the long way, got the tyre done in the morning and into Dubbo.

Then some more changes, add another extra trailer will you, hooked it all up, but then it won’t turn! Unhook, re hook with some help, down for more tyres and a fire extinguisher and out late to find the Moree man said, no you can’t just drop that here! Out, missed tea, got to Moree and bless his soul, he came out with his young bloke and unloaded me, but of course had to triple split to get in, unload, drop odd trailer and then hook the other two back up and made it south of Millmerran and went to bed.

Got into Charlton, finally managed a shower and then with the help of the lovely Melissa, an NRFA member and friend, with some pure luck earlier in the week having the signwriting mostly done and getting the truck back to the Brisbane depot, went and picked it up and headed off to Dubbo getting in 1AM this morning.

Had my daughter put up a request for a lift back to the loaded one Saturday for Sunday, but no takers and our only driver heading anywhere near that way was not answering the phone, so eldest son offered to take a long drive and has just dropped me back at Charlton. The family has paid and paid for what I do and yet, here they are helping again. It has been a full-on week, trying to co-ordinate others interests, works needs and customers, suppliers and those magnificent people who support the TIV and me at the end.

But it is in Dubbo, a few more jobs and even one driver who was looking at in in the yard before I left toady, said, “Now you can start putting all your other stuff on it, that will keep you busy for a bit” and truer words were never spoken, it will not be truly “finished” for months etc, but it looks good and now to trailers which I know you will be shocked to hear, are giving me some grief, but more about that next week. Till then, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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9th January 2022, Podcasts, trucks and penalties.

Goodaye all, back at work for a full week, though started Tuesday, down to Melbourne and back, then a roadtrain to Brisbane, back to Dubbo Saturday morning and due out to Melbourne again tomorrow. Sometimes quiet on the road, a few calls from drivers with issues to follow up and due back on the Nightshift next week.

Those of you who are into audiobooks and follow my Facebook page “Audiobooks for the road” will not find a post for this week. I was talking to a mate last week about the new TIV and some other industry issues and he told me he had done a podcast and spoke of associations etc and I should have a listen. So I looked it up and downloaded the 27 episodes so far to a thumb drive and for this week, have been listening and am into number 11 I think.

I have known a few of those interviewed so far, known of a couple of others and whilst it is about industry generally, it does have a focus on those from the past and or who do up old trucks. There has certainly been some talk of quick trucks (those that “cracked”), what it was like in the old days compared to now and what rules got broken then.

I have found it mostly interesting with one episode a bit hard to hear properly in the truck and will pass that on to them. It has not opened my eyes as such, as I have had similar conversations and heard much of the history, though I am sure you would agree there is very little of it in print. If you have a recommendation for a good history book on the Australian road transport industry, please let me know.

I would recommend “They Came like Waves” by Jeffrey Ffrost as a good place to start and will chase the names of Ray Gillehard’s (please excuse my spelling if wrong for now) book, the one from the fellow who started in Tassie, went to the states and now lives in Bundy and of course, Ted Steven’s book on the blockades, which of course has had both participants from that time and others commenting on it, in some podcasts.

It has been good for a change and I will finish some more after some more audio books for a break, but if you are interested in the old days, fast trucks, transport history and restoring old trucks, have a look at “Copy Southbound”.

The two issue that have got much attention and comment that are issues of mine, have been of course, rest areas and the current fines and penalties. I aim to continue my efforts, but would ask you as readers (or listeners if you listen to the podcast of the blog), what specific fines and penalties do you see as excessive and what would you recommend in their place.

I aim to make up a list and with NRFA support and approval, submit it to the NTC. We have already flagged to them our absolute aim and intent to be a part of the penalties review and have sought a guarantee that their will be further industry participation and involvement. So any comments or suggestions? Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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31st December 2021 The last post (for this year).

Goodaye to all NRFA members and prospective members. I trust you had a good Christmas and wish you all a TRUCKING Good 2022. We have grown this year, our stand at the truckshow went well and with the new TIV on the road soon, I hope to attend events and fly the NRFA flag and will continue to do my best for the industry, the NRFA and the TIV for the next four or five years. If you want to help and be a part of something, join the NRFA and help us to help you. Till next year, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey NRFA President.

To all who read this blog, thanks for your interest. To those in the road transport industry, I would ask you to do one positive thing this new year. To those outside, I seek some understanding and even, perhaps empathy for those who live on the road, so you can have everything you do have. In the UK they have t-shirts, “Without trucks, you would be cold, naked and hungry ! “

There are some fantastic people in this industry, as there are in others, but like in all other industries and jobs, the few who do the wrong thing, not only make it hard for the others, they often undermine the good work done. Please when you are on the road next, look at the trucks. They are everywhere and most often, when simply doing the right thing, you will not see them at all, unless you look, but as soon as one does something wrong, you will take note.

So to be fair, you have to balance all those you don’t normally see simply doing their job, with the odd one who makes a mistake, stuffs up or simply, is one of those we would rather not be on the road either. To all a TRUCKING Goood New Year. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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26th December 2021 Someone who needs a hand.

Goodaye all, I hope you have had time with family and or a Merry Christmas. I had not planned to do a post this week-end and will be back at work Tuesday on my way to Melbourne. I have a mate from many years ago who has a family member who has not had the best Christmas. I will not tell you, but ask you to have a look at the Go Fund me page for him. If you can help and show some Christmas spirit, it may be worth more than simply another present.

He has had a go, been stitched up, kept trying and then come unstuck, and suffered not only serious injury, but is now in financial strife as well. If you can help, I will thank you, but his family will be even more thankful. Please have a look at https://gofund.me/04e86b95 and help if you can. Take care on the road and will be back next week. Safe Travellling, Rod Hannifey.

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19th December 2021 Christmas is Coming.

Goodaye all, hello from downtown Port Augusta. Got out of Dubbo later than planned after my 24 hour break so could do this trip, trailers not ready, one not loaded and then a couple of mechanical and half done issues to sort. But got in right on time to meet the crane, unloaded a roadtrain with some containers and mining type gear, over to the servo and fueled up, the truck and me and had a kip, now some catch up and then onto Whyalla to load tomorrow.

Had to que up to get a covid test in Dubbo Friday and with the truckies sites at Dubbo and Forbes now closed, it will be even harder for those still needing negative results to get into Queensland and other states.

The one at the Dubbo showground is still open and another truckie had driven in bobtail but then had to park and walk in, as you normally go into the shed in your car. However truckies results done quick and had mine that afternoon. Had to hook up to yet another state app for SA and was half hour late into SA, but all good at the border.

Fantastic light show on the way over and some entertainment on the UHF. Heard one exchange where it seems two drivers were approaching a signed narrow (but still two lane) culvert and one driver thinking it meant too narrow, lit up the other because he did not stop. Yes some are narrow, but if careful or you simply slow a bit, no problem, however, blinding the bloke coming at you as they reach a narrow bridge seems pretty stupid to me, what do you think?

There was then an exchange with each calling the other out, there was no contact, no sideways trucks all locked up, but the blinder was not from here. Seems if you don’t give way to him, simply because he thinks you should, he was happy to blind the other bloke and that seems far more dangerous, than simply slowing if you are not confident enough to get through a narrow culvert!

Been a fairly interesting week, got loaded in Bundaberg Monday after a bit of fun finding the mill, the last road in, looked like a dead end and I thought, looks like I will be backing the b-double out of here, but was one of those that looked bad, but was OK. A few in front, so out after lunch, then unloaded Brisbane Tuesday, loaded back out after some dispute on orders, excellent feed (as always) at Fisher Park Truckstop and then had to traverse the back road into Wee Waa with the front road still closed, though only signed at the end after you head down there, due to flooding.

Back out that way, then a meeting with NHVR re fatigue and invited the new staff member there for a trip when the new one is on the road. Now have the CEOs of the ATA, Infrastructure Australia, Glen Sterle and Kym set for trips in the new year and with efforts from Transport for NSW re rest areas, SA doing the Eyre Highway with green reflectors, there is a small light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope the new TIV will be done next week, but it seems it will have to be pin stripped later as I can’t get onto Tony at TRUCKWRITERS. Luke on the Nightshift actually asked about whether the lines on trucks are still done by hand and I explained about Tony and now his son still doing it. Thanks to all who have kept faith and time and space to fit it in at this busy time of year. I just have to get it back to Dubbo for a few lights and rego and then onto and into the new year and four or five years of keeping pushing the barrow.

At this stage will be home for Christmas, but possible will be working between, not sure yet and probably won’t know till late in the week. Sane for new year, so would like to thank all who reads this, expect you won’t mind if I don’t post next week-end, but if home and have time will catch up before new year. May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING good New Year. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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12th December 2021 Another week-end away.

Goodaye all. Been a flooding type of a week, I had to detour a few times, but got to where I wanted, but then have ended up stuck away. It could have been worse, unable to unload in Mackay from late Friday night till Monday morning, but being forever the optimist, I managed to get loaded late Friday afternoon, then for fun, texted the bloke in Mackay to see if he was working Saturday, normally very unlikely.

He replied late Friday night, saying maybe, when I was winding down and looking for somewhere to park up, not many spots coming in from Clermont till you get to Nebo and it was full, so then had to fire up and hook in to get to Mackay for my break and a well needed shower, even got the last spot at Paget!

So up Saturday morning and round to unload and reload, even got to the mine early enough to unload Saturday afternoon texting the boss, unloaded and this is my plan. He texted back, have to reload and texted, all-ready done that and then another load back, even he was impressed. So then rang my wife’s sister and asked could I visit (and would she make me some cookies). Last visit she said hers were the best I would eat and it was only fair to give her the chance to prove she was right.

In late Saturday night, caught up on paperwork and diary and picked up for an omelette for breakfast, able to catch up on emails and this stuff etc, lunch and dinner to come and drive down to somewhere near Bundy tonight to load tomorrow and see what my chances are of getting home from Brissie.

Whilst covid did not stop us (but made life so much harder for many of us as well as all others) and some Australians finally recognised they do need trucks, the adblue issue has the capacity to do so. How we get to the point of this from a government, industry and supplier perspective, is beyond me. Is it simply that as an additive, no one considered what would happen without it? The Chinese might not even need to invade, with no trucks, Australia will not just suffer, but will collapse and they will be able to walk in and take over.

Either we need to sort the supply problem in real short time, seemingly beyond possibility, or we need to allow trucks to remove the need for adblue, (how that will work and if effective for all are other major issues) and with a recent major campaign against engine remapping, that won’t be the end of the world, but unless we sort the material and fix the problem, the future looks very interesting.

So not to be further rude, lunch calls and a shower and some washing and a chat, so will be back again next week. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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5th December 2021 Slipping a trip in the middle in the new TIV K200.

Goodaye all, in the middle of a normal, read normal to interstate drivers week, I picked up the new truck from Wagga Wagga and delivered it to Brisbane. They had struggled to get someone to deliver it when most of their part in the next TIV (though a bit more to be done in Dubbo now before final delivery) was done and being the eternal optimist, I thought I could simply fit it in the middle of a normal week.

Tuesday, our change over was due out early, never normally happens, I was still on my way back to Dubbo, having been to Dalby, Brisbane and back to Daly then Mungindi and so had to ask the driver to wait, Thanks Peter, then had to arrange safe pick up of the new one, got a shower and a kip and early Wednesday morning, off to Brissie. Through Dubbo for fuel and thought I would go through Mendooran as had come down from Goondi and not heard it was now closed.

In the rain, the truck faltered but then took off again, but coming into Coona, it derated. Still early, so made some calls, added some ad-blue (but then wasn’t the problem anyway and bottles just had long enough funnel) told maybe throttle sensor but being special, none anywhere, can you get it up to cruise and try that? Current truck no cruise and was in 50 zone, so had not had the chance to try.

Took off and yes, works on cruise but towns will be interesting, then it must have dried out (and now having to go via Tamworth due to Newell closed) came good till the fourth lot of rain and another lot of flashing lights and buzzers and no accelerator, but cruise OK. Now running behind plan and up on hours, divert to Brown and Hurley for a booking to check it in the morning. Jump in another changeover to go back to Dubbo, but he hadn’t known till the last minute as thought with road closed etc may get stuck in Brissie! I was starting to think that too and my week and plan would have had major ramifications for a lot of things and reasons.

But another long night in the passenger seat, home to Dubbo, get my truck serviced!!!! Before I left and then into Melbourne with a few little things to just nearly have me tearing (the last) of my hair out, but Friday went OK and out that afternoon and home yesterday.

So it does exist, it did sort of breakdown (and I have told all who want to take the mickey out of me, now it has broken down, but I still got it there, it will not break down till after I get out of it in 5 years, STOP LAUGHING ALL OF YOU) it had the bullbar test fitted, had some checks done for the Icepack and is booked in for the scales etc tomorrow. I will be back up there Tuesday and might get to check in, but doubt it as have a late morning timeslot south of Brissie.

One mate I called up said it looked good and that was even without the bullbar and maybe without it all the ACB wiring being open at the front, was where the problem with the rain came from, but will check up on that Monday. So a few more steps, but again, I am in the debt of many who have contributed, but hell, am I looking forward to having it on the road! Hell yes!

Oh and on the way up in the new one, I had committed to a meeting with Transport for NSW about truck rest areas. I think there were nearly 50 in the phone hook up and I will state two things here. I have been critical of all states, including NSW for the lack of facilities, lack of consultation and completely ignoring our needs in being safe and having suitable and sufficient truck rest areas. I hope this meeting is the start of a major change within Transport for NSW to consult, listen and act. Yes it all costs money and we all know there will not be 20 new rest areas built tomorrow, but back to being that optimist, I am looking forward to improvements.

I did suggest they give me a grader and I could fix the problems on the Pacific in a couple of days, but they declined that offer. I thank Paul Pulver from LBRCA from also taking part, giving his views and support for many of my comments. Yes it is a small consult from the trucking point of view, but again, I am taking it as a serious start and one of the major things we pushed was more, wider and serious industry consultation, in planning, before during and within construction and this was not only agreed to, but said would be a major change. Nothing happens overnight, it has taken a long time and there is no reason we could not have had more industry participation in this meeting, but too many views at once can see things bogged down and then the process simply takes longer to get started. I look forward to much change and will keep pushing.

So a day off, to catch up with some sleep, do a column and all this stuff, more for the new truck and say hello to my children. Another normal week!!!!!!!!!!!!! Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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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.

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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.

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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.