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5th February 2023

Goodaye all, back in lovely warm and muggy Mackay, got in Saturday evening after loading Friday morn, but I had to wait in Sydney for nearly two days for the mezzanine floors to turn up for this load. They were coming, but that truck had a problem and I waited some more, hoping they would be done and tidied, as they had been taken out during the refurb and then disappeared. I eventually found them, asked to have them cleaned up welded etc, but it was only partly done, but they will do the job and I will push to get them fixed when we can.

The unload in Sydney at Auburn was fun, glad I asked about b-doubles, trouble with the single with the roadworks out the front and a site, not real truck friendly, but all done. Certainly got more on with the mezzes, but longer to load and unload tomorrow morning, then sort out which mines to visit and do a couple of days here.

This will be an interesting week for timing as have to be in Wagga for the NRFA Conference Friday/Saturday, but hoping it will come together, either I get in and out of Melbourne Friday or load for Melb Friday out of Dubbo for Monday delivery and go down that way.

Caught up on some cab cleaning, but even had the shirt off in the cab with the Icepack on today, did some writing, making a long and detailed reply to the request from Transport NSW for information on truck rest areas. Have been informed of first steering committee meeting in Canberra in a fortnight so looking forward to that getting underway.

Spent time talking to a driver this morning in a section of industry that is at the peak of gear and effort, had his own, had some dealings with Police and RTA over the years, some good, some abysmal, treated so bad, got out of trucks for awhile, but finally came back. Even with the best gear, job and boss, he said, “Why would you come into this industry?” I can clearly understand his sentiments, yes he had many good years, but the treatment by some has not just taken the gloss off, it has lost yet another good driver top the industry by simply overzealous treatment by the bad few on the other side.

Also had a discussion with another steering committee member who I had not met, we have many of the same ideals and hopes and are both, like I believe all on the committee will be, looking forward to seeing change.

This funding is over ten years, it is linked to the HVSI through the NHVR and how that will work will be one of the many questions we will be asking at the start. The problem has been there and growing worse for years with more losses than gains, spots closed for “road safety” as seen by someone who does not need somewhere decent to sleep and rest. We have a lot to catch up on, so we will not fix it in a year or even three, but we will be working on it. As all of you should have seen by now, there are five drivers, plus myself, Glen still holds a wheel, so 7 plus the association people who may well bring some background support and information.

We have never been asked or included, we have been asked to contribute, but without real intent to listen many times and I truly hope this is a start, not just a single occurrence. Glen will push that as will we all, but as the largest and biggest single users of the roads, yes, there are more cars, but we spend more time, cover more distance and more often, more of the country than others, it is our lives on the roads.

Can we see real change, will the HVNL review actually deliver anything of value for the time and money spent, that is yet to be answered, we can only hope. Time for some more writing and then bed. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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22nd January 2023

Goodaye all, feeling a bit melancholy (thanks Luke at Triple M for the bottle of wine for Chrissie, finally had a chance to have a glass or two) perhaps the wine is why. I have done three radio interviews this week, plus back into my spot on Triple M, one for Australian Truck Radio, a new year hello, one with ABC Dubbo after the announcement of NSW Minister For Regional Transport and Roads announcing an invitation for truckies to contribute and nominate where we need rest areas and or increased capacity and what we would use them for? It is specifically about three highways but will accept comments across NSW so get in and have a say, I certainly will and have done directly already.

You can participate here  https://www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/heavy-vehicle-rest-stops

I was asked was I aware of this and did I have a comment. What do you think? Yes I had many, including the fact that many of the new overtaking lanes on the Newell (and this is aside from the fact most have had repair work done on them within months of completion and the one south of Peak Hill is now being done again for I think the fourth time) have come at the cost of truck parking bays. The reporter was surprised to hear this, funny that! Starting at Trewilga, south from Boggabilla, Back Creek north of West Wyalong and my current fight, at the dipper in the Pilliga.

Of course, not only did I explain I had spoken to the authorities when they started each of these works, during said works and again nearing completion, each time being told, “Yes we will look into that” only to have each works completed and more truck stops lost. I also gave the reporter more than he needed, but have offered him a ride as well to see it from our point of view.

Then there was one with ABC Wagga simply to say Goodaye for the year and give a plug for our upcoming conference in Wagga on February 11th. Check the website and or Facebook page and join the NRFA and come along.

Truckie Tuesday on “Nightshift” from 1AM to 3 is back on the air, so a few callers and some about EWDS with one fellow then texting me at 4AM asking which one I was now using. Loaded out of Melbourne for Sydney, got truck washed at King of the Road at Albury and as always, terrific job done and left looking a million bucks, into Sydney and looked like being held over for two days, then after one night had to double split in the rain to deliver and goodbye clean truck, then load wool for Melbourne. Made it down, three drops, reload and home Saturday morning to get two new windscreens.

I need to get some time in Dubbo to sort out my water tank and toolbox to complete the chassis, have a mate doing some stainless and hope to have that fitted and finished within the next month, then start on trailers. There have been many who have contributed to this truck and I will detail them all when it is done, but thanks to them here as well.

Thanks to those who have called up and said they enjoyed my podcast on “Copy Southbound” and at this stage, Bruce is coming to our Wagga Conference and I hope that will give him something a bit different, lots of passionate truckies together hoping to improve things for all on the road.

I have to catch up with my audio books page and find some blue window tint now for the new windscreens, so will wish you all Safe Travelling, Rod.

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15th January, Roads, ranges, rest areas and a conference.

Goodaye all, well a big week, six legs and with starting at Wagga Monday morning, was chasing my tail most of the week, but got it all done without as much angst as I had anticipated, but it meant using my hours and that breaks were just enough.

Roads and the impact into the trucks and drivers is out of control. Yes there has been floods, but the issue is the repairs, the value and how long we will have to suffer it. I stopped where previously we had a decent size informal (but marked by someone we both know with green reflectors) truck bay. Transport for NSW have come along and improved???? The road by building overtaking lanes which have already got the bitumen coming up and failures as well. We could previously get 5 plus b-doubles in this bay and it had some shade. Now we will be lucky to get two in there and we lost the one on the other side of the road.

When I woke up there were a number of utes and I approached one lady to ask about the guideposts and she said, “He is the boss” as another ute pulled up. So I approached the fellow (and if he was named or known, most of his comments would lose him his job he said) and he detailed some of their problems. I said from the start I recognised they can only do what they are told and often, those above won’t listen to those doing the work.

He detailed struggling to get the right crews at the right time with the right gear, being told to use local labour where they could, but often they do not have the expertise or skills required, being forced to do things the wrong way or with the wrong product, yes when delays extend works, they start in summer and then finish in winter, still using summer product and vice versa.

The bay in question had guide posts between it and the road and then more at the back meaning you could not get parked and leave much room for anyone else. I asked him to remove at least one and he said “leave it with him”. But it is yet another failure that will cost more to maintain and then fix properly. Why? So do we keep throwing good money after bad?

I am also having a discussion, about to get heated with Transport for NSW about the loss of truck parking bays and the placement of overtaking lanes on the Newell, let alone the state of the section south of Forbes. Yes I know it rained, yes there is still water for miles and miles across the floodplain, but why is the road still buggered if they spent all that time and money to open it? Why do we do half arse repairs on roads, spraying tar that all goes back up on cars and trucks instead of doing proper repairs?

I travelled down through the village of Pilliga yesterday coming home from my last drop at Wee Waa and the failures along there, north and west are simply rough rock sections that have not been touched in months. Yes, as at the start, I recognise there is a shortage of skilled staff etc, but do we even have a plan, is someone making sure we are getting value for money from the works done? Look at the Toowoomba bypass, work had been stopped by the union over safety issues on a site that was meant to be the eighth wonder of the world according to TMR and look at it now.

Consultation with industry would not have solved the failures there now, but we may have had a better long term outcome that did not need mile high banks. What will it cost now, enough that it could and should have been done without the dip in the middle, but what would us truckies know?  The frustration level is growing, so let’s now be positive.

The NRFA Conference in Wagga Wagg at the RSL on Saturday the 11th February should be on your calendar. You should join the NRFA and then attend. We have a good range of speakers including and ex NSW Highway Patrol officer who told me at one stage he preferred dealing with truckies, so his chat may be very interesting. Join, come and have a say and help us to help you. Don’t sit back and whinge and want it done, help make it happen.

I started listening to the Copy Southbound podcast last year and have now listened to the last five this week. Funny enough during the week I had a number of drivers say they had enjoyed listening to mine, but the one with Max Keogh, an industry legend I met once at an ATA convention and the Graeme Burke one were not only very good, but again raise then issue of why the concerns they both have are still not solved, (not here the paragraph above) but I will keep trying. Off tomorrow to load for Shepparton. Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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8th January 2023 Roads and truck rest area value.

Goodaye all, welcome to 2023 and I hope it serves you well. Will be short this week, yes home yesterday after being very concerned where the next southbound overtaking lane is being built in the Pilliga and have emailed Transport for NSW (again) seeking answers.

The failures in the roads seem to be patched at times and at others, completely ignored and left to try and kill us! The Newell is a major highway, yet it does and has not for years, received the funding of others. Yes that has changed and it is having work done, but is the quality there? Are we getting value for the money spent, not from where I sit and bounce and bang up and down the road.

Into Melbourne last week and all the drivers in the rear bump trucks sitting there in the Tulla tunnel for hours on their phones without a worker in site, good value there obviously. Looking forward to seeing who will be on the rest area steering committee, should be announced this month for the first meeting in February. Thanks to those who have offered comments and suggestions to me directly and will try and include them, but there will and must be, wide consultation with drivers to not only show I or someone else did not pick a site they want fixed alone.

There must also be work done outside of simply more rest areas. One mate had a go at me some time ago, saying the caravanners all loved me, because every time I got a new or improved truck bay, they got somewhere new to park. Another fellow believes the signage for trucks is not clear enough, what is a truck and is a truck bay for trucks only, or simply saying trucks can fit.

Why is it that all car bays, mostly with no truck signs, have all the toilets tables and chairs and shade? If that, then why can’t we at the very least have parking to be able to walk in and use them. We must have a National Truck Rest area Strategy, where no section of road over 25 which has major work, can’t be dome without consultation for truck rest areas. No single truck rest area to be closed, removed or reduced, without same and replacement spaces. Better use of stockpile sites, industrial areas etc. I have raised these issues in early discussions before the entry process was even decided, but it will be a group of associations and drivers and I look forwards to working with them all.

Off to Wagga to unload in the morning and hightail it into Melbourne to try and get loaded tomorrow afternoon. Safe Travelling till next week, cheers Rod.

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31st December 2022 A TRUCKING Good (Late went to the fireworks) New Year.

Goodaye all, Christmas for lunch at the Zoo with most of family, out Boxing Day, one son came all the way from Tassie, last son to arrive managed to get here Boxing Day morning for quick visit after some delays, so all 7 home for a short time, been awhile since all home together. Hugs and photos and off to work.

Had put my hand up to work and would have liked more time with the out of town sons who came home, but had offered and so 5,400 k’s in five days, Dubbo to Port Augusta, drop dog trailer and single to Alice Springs, two containers off, bugger, Hall of Fame closed, will get there to visit one day, back to Port to pick up 2nd trailer and deliver drill rig near Adelaide and reload for home, back today.

Did a quick TikTok from a parking bay south of Alice, need to make some calls re rest areas etc, marked two green reflector bays, but left my tin on the back before Wilcannia and lost my extras, so could not mark anymore. Road very quiet, a TRUCKING Good New Year to all and especially those still on the road. Off to watch fireworks in Dubbo and will see you all next year. Safe Travelling, Rod.

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26th December 2022 Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING Good New Year.

Goodaye all, hope you had a Merry Christmas and wish you all a TRUCKING Good New Year. Got home Friday had a soft drink and burger with the RPT crew, upset the tyre fitter a bit as found four tyres for him to change and had to move the adblue tank back a bit now I have the 385 Michelin Multis on the front, but put new mudflaps on when I got home and had a family day yesterday. Soon off in a roadtrain to Port Augusta then north. Take care all and watch out for the Xmas road warriors. Cheers Rod.

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18th December 2022 Merry Christmas and a TRUCKING Good New Year to all.

Goodaye all, well home since Friday, but out tomorrow to Newcastle, double split to deliver Monday morning and then load for Mackay for Wednesday delivery, so might be home for Friday or Saturday. Did one radio interview for Christmas with my mate Mark from Yass FM Friday afternoon, a good half hour chat and have ABC Central West Monday and 2DU Dubbo Tuesday and will try for a couple more.

I have seen some Xmas messages from others in the media and hope people do listen and take heed. We like so many others, have work coming out of our ears and it is likely I will be back on the road Boxing Day, but will know next week. The one thing this means to all those who will have a good Christmas, is, “IT ALL CAME ON TRUCKS” and all we ask is for a bit of empathy and that you all drive as though those in the vehicles around you, are others in your family.

You would not cut off, abuse or risk your parents, your children or other family would you? So if you drive that way all the time, as though every vehicle around you has a member of your own family in it, then more people will make it home safe each day. Too often it seems we are all in a hurry, yes I too do at times want to be somewhere, but often the difference is I have not just the boss and the customer to please, the authorities will not simply give me a break and let me off if I need an extra ten minutes time to get to a decent place for a feed, a shower or a decent sleep. They will say tough, you are a professional driver and should have expected all the delays and idiots and roadworks and caravans and everything else and fine me merrily.

There is no doubt at times you cannot argue against road safety and I don’t mean when there is a real and perceived risk on the road, but some roadworks speed limits, distances and signage need to be both more realistic and truly reflect the risk. Two kilometres of 40 k zone when there is a culvert off the roadway being improved, but without anyone even on site, is not the same risk as 10 blokes working on the road fixing potholes. We must find the happy medium, yes protect roadworkers, but don’t simply put up signs (or simply never take the things down even when there is no one working there and the work is off the actual roadway) and slow traffic seemingly for the fun of it because you can.

That is when people ignore the signs. In the last week, I have seen both ends of the spectrum, signs and speedlimits way over the top and then come round a corner to find traffic stopped with very little warning and really, insufficient notice for fully loaded trucks at highway speeds. Even the rough surface signs are either used when the road they sign is not as bad as the bit before or after, or it is bloody dangerous. Maybe we need “REALLY this one is rough” signs too?

So to all on the road, have a terrific and Merry Christmas, a TRUCKING Good New Year and whilst I may well “speak” to you before then, it will depend on how much time at home over the short break. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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12th December 2022

Goodaye all, so Orange on Monday morning was fun, “a” trailer in after dropping the “b” and back and forth on the phone, mostly on mute but able to listen and comment where needed, during most of the 90 minute meeting re rest areas with Transport for NSW. Two other NRFA members, plus some other industry people involved and I will say it is good to have them invite us, to have listened to the input and comments from two previous meetings I have taken part in and that there is much work planned and with this input, I do hope it will be worth the effort and wait.

Over to Forbes to load and through the village of Eugowra, what a terrible impact the floods had there, according to the radio, 80% of homes affected and as you travel towards there, you can see debris well over 2 metres up in trees in places. So many have been affected in so many places. Load and then into Melbourne and the detour for the Newell south of Forbes through Grenfell is as bad as the road from Eugowra and you wonder how long it will last?

Into Melbourne, unload and have a night off so could get the truck and trailers wheel aligned Wednesday morning, did an interview with Simon from Australian Truck Radio and another with Caravanning Qld towards some possible things in the future, then pick up truck and trailers and load and except for the more than normal traffic delays outbound, nothing else special, got the truck washed at King of the Road truckwash in Lavington, the first time they have seen the new truck and RPT 50 year trailers and they did a terrific job. Pushed through to Dubbo, only to have it shower when nearly there, damn, though it is cleaner still than it was.

Had plans for a few jobs on the trailers, before I left for Moura and Biloela but then new plans, leave my trailers and take another set to Brissie, did a delivery to a major DC and only waited an hour and a half, but had brekkie etc, back to the yard, hook up to another b trailer, out to Gatton, drop that b and pick up a b double, so a b triple home. Back into Dubbo Saturday morning, cleaned the turntable, trying to get a greasless for the b trailer, and home for another shot at the yard and watering etc.

But just sent an email to a number of people at Transport for NSW with some concerns, will see how that goes next week. Thought I would finish this Sunday morning and then send it, along with me off to work. But the power went out, (I believe it came back on after 3PM) I had to get on the road to Moura and then was going to finish it last night, but didn’t pull up till 1AM at Isla Gorge, so today it is, with me now back at Charlton. So that will do for another week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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4th December A visit to Dubbo

Goodaye all, short and sweet, loaded Townsville Thursday, down through the centre and home Saturday morning, couple of tyres and a quick truck service, then home and into work there to recover the yard etc. Finished late Saturday night, more today and off to Orange tonight to unload in the morning and take part in a phone hook up with Tpt for NSW on rest areas. Will be applying to be part of the Federal Funding for truck Rest Areas Steering Committee later this week.

Been awhile since I have been down from Charters Towers to Clermont, the first bit, red road is good, then it becomes narrow and in places, even narrower than many, but whilst the surface is rough in places, there weren’t anywhere near the number of holes and failures as nearly everywhere else I have been.

So done my column, blog now, then audiobooks page, one on the convoy, some friend requests, a video etc and still much to do, maybe next week-end will get to visit again.

Have had tea, now a shower, pack truck, out to yard and fuel and hook up and of to Orange to play, split the trailers to unload. The joys of trucking. Till next week, safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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27th November Back in Mackay.

Goodaye all, well back in Mackay again, got in last night for a 35 hour break till I can unload Monday. Been a big week from the convoy last week, loading in Melbourne Monday with the wind and the curtains out level with the roof (not good for a perfect shoulder let alone a repaired one) but got to move up and finish loading with less wind. Then the long way round to Dubbo, that road across form the Hume is bad just like many others, the unsigned craters the worst, trying to pull up enough not to do damage, so on the brakes hard regularly in the night.

Grease the back turntable, had to adda couple of pallets and that delay (no good deed goes unpunished) meant when I rang to say an hour from Moree, sorry will be gone so night off and unload in morning. Had planned to be reloaded and out on the farm for Tuesday delivery, first of four loads. We had picked up the loads, but been unable to deliver and rain delayed need as well. However, Tuesday morn unload and reload and away.

Had an offer to follow another fellow in a ute to the farm, he thought there may be a shortcut, but we went all the way round first with about 10 k of dirt to the airstrip and unloading point. Unloaded with the crop dusters flat out up and down and went out the shortcut, all good. Funny that the dirt, yes with a soft spot and a couple of small humps for pipes etc, was still better than much of the first 50 k westbound from Moree and even much better than the hundreds of holes, a couple of serious failures and the myriad of trenches, craters and bumps on the bitumen road?

Two trips done each day, dropped plenty of dust each trip back and then told off to Newcastle to loads for up here. Didn’t quite make it, would love to have asked the yellow and orange truck was there a truck in front when he parked, because where he was you could only ift one truck in the spot just pats the BP at Murrurundi, so went into the next and nearly lost the truck and trailers in the hole. Full of stinking mud etc and been there for awhile, but managed to claw out and park on good ground, but then had to be nearly on the road, any further back and would have been bogged!

Off to the castle and rang the Murrurundi council, but got Singleton, explained the issue ansd the lady said she would be back to me by close of business that day. I was impressed, but a little doubtful. But true to her word, she rang me back about 3.30, telling me it is the responsibility of Tpt for NSW as it is on the highway. She had spoken with them and it was programmed for fixing before Xmas, but with all the gear out west, it may not get done.

She said it had been an ongoing issue, read back and forth for months to get something done, but a reminder to Tpt would not hurt. I did suggest though that a load of fill in there if it was going to be some time, would help and might lessen the severity of the issue. On the phone to Tpt NSW on 131700, round and round for a bit, then lost the call. How many of you have found phone service worse now? So rang again, explained again and had a bloke who said he might know someone who could help. Let’s hope and if you see it fixed, let me know.

No to compare that with the work of the road crew I had ben watching west of Moree may well be unfair. It must be a bugger of a job and fairly daunting at the moment, take a load of cold hotmix (mmm, wonder how well that will work when thrown in a hole?) enough for a days work and when you need about 30 loads, see how far it will go. Now I did this round trip 4 times in two days and yes, some holes were filled, but it looked like fill two miss five, fill two miss a crater, fill two and miss 10 was the plan.  No womper stomper or roller, maybe tamp with the foot or roll with the truck, but will they last a week, what value are we getting?  Again, not a job I want, but who makes suer we get some value from the effort?

I truly think we need some better oversight of road funding money. It is our lives on the road, yes the odd car might blow a tyre or break a rim, but not only do our trucks cop a flogging, so do we and we will still be blamed for breaking the road when it was not built or fixed properly in the first place. What do you think? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.