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24th July 2022

Goodaye all, back to a semblance of a normal week, just two trips to Brisbane and leaving again today, for up there tomorrow. Got my medical done last Monday morning with some discussion on time and an eye report, but have that booked for next week to complete and then have handed in, in time for the due date. Got held over in Brisbane Tuesday and ended up doing a delivery to a produce store, then the second trip up, better timing but another delivery down to Beaudesert.

Will have my old trailers on later today, they are showing a bit of age but the whole unit still does its’ job of promoting the road transport industry and road safety and I now have some certainty of a new set of trailers in the new year that will match the new truck and then I will have maybe four more years to push that barrow.

But next Tuesday I will be in surgery now for my left shoulder. Had the right done last year and that went well, but have again completely torn the tendon (so no real pain and have “Popeye” syndrome on both arms now) and damaged the shoulder and was told the same, yes I may get away with it for a year or two, but there is a chance I may then not be able to lift my arm above my shoulder and if I want to keep working for another four or five years, it should be done.

So off to Sydney Monday, home on my birthday with a fixed shoulder, then 5 weeks in a sling, then physio and hopefully, with an auto, Kenworths fold out cab steps, my RPT 50 years rear trailer finally done with gate skates and new curtains, back to work even if gently, sometime soon after that. While I am off the truck will have the finishing touches that we have not had time to do, completed, a service and will be ready to go and with the smick trailers, keen to get to some events and of course, work on the design and set up of the new trailers too.

Will still be doing all the other stuff and for those of you who listen to the spot on Triple M Tuesday morning, the CEO of the NHVR, Sal Petrocitto will be on and answering questions for the first hour this week. I hope to have some others join in at times and we will see how this goes. Got to finish a small job on the truck etc, so till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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14th July 2022 NRFA Conference and TIV K200 hits 100,000

Goodaye all. A mid-week post to catch up, simply have been flat out running to keep up. Out Sunday over a week ago to load, a couple of issues with a DC timeslot Monday in Melbourne, then nowhere to camp, typical to many. Had a kip and then out of Melbourne for Brisbane, in Wednesday, load one trailer ready to run out to Toowoomba, load another Thursday for another driver and load, then out to Toowoomba that night as truck booked in for 100,000 service there for Friday. Did a local radio interview early Friday morning, to the bank to sort an association change-over of signatories etc, lunch and back to wait for the truck. Full day, but then not told it was ready, not clean and off to our informal dinner for NRFA Board and guests before the conference.

Had to leave at 8.30 PM whilst most others having a beer or two, to take another trailer to Brisbane and pick up my other two for my b-triple to Mt Isa. Back after midnight, shower and bed by two and up at 6 for the conference. Thanks to all who made it happen, lots of work behind the scenes by a small crew and from where I sit, it went well, but I will let others decide that.

Dinner that night, awards given out to deserving industry people, had an auction and thanks to those who contributed, all will be listed on our NRFA page. Up early for our truckies breakfast, in one way our only failure. A Sunday morning at Charlton, it seems most had already left to get to their destinations, but we had 6 health checks done and I left at 11 AM and made it to my delivery point with about 5 minutes to spare the following afternoon a long way away.

Pressure off then, into Mt Isa Monday night and Tuesday some fun local deliveries, load and leave that afternoon, finally into Brisbane this morning and do a dog run, taking trailers out to then pick up my third and try and deliver a container, rang ahead, yes come, got there, we can’t unload that here now with the forks we have, so another hour or two wasted.

It has been a big few weeks in many ways, some k’s done, some green reflectors done, some small wins (yet to be seen but hopeful) with lights and other issues in Central Qld. Our conference done and of course, it alone did not fix the problems, we now have to continue all the behind the scenes work and effort to try and see some of those issues addressed, unless of course you will do it all for us? And then there is family that I have not seen much of, so no post this week-end as I hope to be home Saturday, but either out Sunday or a yearly medical to do Monday and then on the road again. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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2nd July 2022, NRFA Conference is coming next week-end in Toowoomba.

Goodaye all, home Friday afternoon, out Sunday lunch. A bit of time to catch up with the family. Even planned to go to the pictures, but busy for school hols in NSW, so hopefully next time, but that will be a few weeks away. Trying to refit some shelves in the sleeper gap till I get some cupboards in the future, the KW ones pretty expensive and hope I can end up with something more workable. Icepack Services Toowoomba doing some very well thought out, designed and fitted cupboards inside and also excellent work outside and they will be helping. Sick of stuff on the floor behind the seats, so will try this for the interim.

Next week-end is the NRFA Conference in Toowoomba, so off to Melbourne tomorrow, load for Brissie from there, plan to be in Wednesday, unload, load a flat top loaded and take to Toowoomba, then truck booked in for 100,000 service in Toowoomba Friday, down and pick up two loaded “A” trailers that night after dinner and then have to be in Cloncurry by Monday afternoon with the “B” triple. So off straight after our truckies breakfast at the BP Charlton Sunday 10th July 7AM till noon.

All are welcome to attend the conference at the Toowoomba Golf Club, no charge to attend, but we would certainly like you to let us know you will be attending. If you want to attend the dinner that night, with an auction, Yogi Kendall as guest speaker, you will need to purchase tickets and again, let us know if you want to attend so we can cover for catering and numbers. The truckies breakfast is free and we will have a special sponsored brekkie deal on the day, so come along, have a say or ask a question and sign up and join the NRFA.

I have to catch up with my audiobooks page, pack some clothes and sort some more things for next week, so will keep it short and ask you to consider attending the conference and hope you will and come and say Goodaye. Till next time, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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25th June 2022 Away again, naturally.

Goodaye all, back to normal it seems, in Brisbane now having a 24 hour break before heading off to Mackay in the morning. Thought I was getting two days home before off to Isa again, planned to go to the movies with my eldest son, started work on my extra steps on the truck, then told, no sorry, plans changed and off to work that night.

Into Newcastle for a couple of drops, pick ups and then load, again to find some changes, leave a bit off and now have to go to Brisbane to add in an urgent tank, even had to put a boat on, so good for floods, but the little 4hp won’t pull the b-double out of too much water.

Up the Pacific in the daylight, something I haven’t done in a while and again, welcome the Stopping Bays, but after a good feed at Moorelands and then trying to get into Brissie to get my 24 hour break in and by dark and into Queensland, the lack of anywhere to stop on the Gold Coast motorway into Brissie, not a stopping bay or even a shoulder for nearly the whole length is a concern and is on the list to TMR.

So have had some time today to catch up, complain to Transport for NSW about losing some more truck bays, TMR about some sideroads on the Landsborough Highway to see if we can have them left there for trucks and emails, friend requests etc.

Much work on the phone with setting up stuff for our conference coming up in Toowoomba, looking good and with many saying they will come.

Having missed an important meeting re the HVNL review on Friday, where I had to work, funny that, I have just spent an hour reading, another doing a survey and another responding to the suggestions. I have added a comment that we as drivers are the ones most affected, both now and into the future, yet how can I be involved when I have to work? This must change.

So into the shower, then bed and on the road in the morning. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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19th June 2022 A weekend at home (or half at least)

Goodaye all, well half a week-end at home, the first for a while. Many drivers seem to be flat out, there are not enough people to do the work, whether it be mechanics, packers, drivers and even barristas. Heard there are currently 13,000 adds for them, I did not think we had that many!

So another trip north, this time as an ab-triple to a mine, then home to load cotton, unload cotton at another gin, then reload at yet another and back to Dubbo, a short visit home while the truck got a service (missed an “A” but back on track now) then Brisbane as a b-triple and home as a b-double. A fairly big week, nearly 5,500 ks, but some loading and unloading in there as well.

Many calls and time on the phone during the week with details and discussions re the NRFA Conference in Toowoomba on the 9th July at the Toowoomba Golf Club, a dinner that night with speaker and auction, then a Truckies Breakfast at the BP Charlton on Sunday 10th. BP will offer a free coffee with breakfast and Haultech Engineering, who you may know as the makers of the excellent ICEPACK, have agreed to sponsor the breakfast, so you should get a cheap brekkie, full details yet to be confirmed.

We will have a couple of speakers in the Saturday morning session, then a panel discussion with a wide group seeking to not only discuss issues, but to come up with some solutions to a few industry problems. We won’t solve them on the day, but we hope to be genuine and if all invited do attend, have those there who can make some decisions and hopefully then some headway.

So outside of a couple of jobs on the truck, I did look at “The Ice Road” movie as was fairly disappointed, stopped watching when it got too ridiculous, but will finish one day when nothing better to do. There have been few trucking movies that show us well, most want to highlight the bad, even Smokey and the Bandit, for the incredible success it was, showed a less than legal side. When “Prime Mover” was due to be filmed, they had an info session at the Dubbo Tourist building and I dropped in and offered my view and of course, wanted a spot for a truck promoting the industry and road safety. I was told that I would be the only one who watched it and they needed more.

For those of you who have seen it (and I did mange to be home to attend the premiere in Dubbo) it did not do the industry many favours. Yes it had a love story and a sort of truck love story too with the young bloke following his Dad, but it had a bad side and was a bit too contrived, for me at least.

So with Slim long gone, no good movies or much trucking music, we need someone new or if Jimmy Barnes will do another trucking song for us, maybe we will get heard somewhere else. Come on Jimmy, come for a trip and sing us a new song. Till next week, Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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16th May 2022 from 11th now on TIK Tok too.

Goodaye all, I have a mate who calls me a media tart (or something like that depending on company at the time) and he has been in the media and music industry for years. So to keep up the good work, I put up my first TikTok video on my way to Darwin two weeks ago. Since then I have done two more and most comments have been good, a couple not so, but you can’t please all the people all the time. So if keen, check out “safetravelling” and let me know what you think.

Made a call to NT Dept of Infrastructure from Augathella on the way home from Darwin and I was very impressed when someone rang me back within 15 minutes. I have detailed some concerns, sent him some plans and details and will see where that goes. Had a phone hook up with Transport for NSW on some rest area work north of and hopefully eventually in Dubbo as well, there were four industry people invited and Tpt for NSW have listened to our concerns and made some changes to planning for each, but even more specifically the Tycannah Creek Rest Areas south of Moree. I was told of plans to “improve” these sites nearly 12 months ago, spent ages and many calls asking to see their plans and when finally got a copy, was not impressed.

I said that if they planned to remove any of the trees, we would have a big and public brawl. They have now changed their first plans to remove some of the trees, so I thank them for listening and hope this is a new and ongoing communication that will see us far more likely to have more input well before such things are done, because then it is too late to fix. The money is hard to come by and once built, you can’t fix it to work for us, no matter how good the original intent was.

Off to hook up a b-triple, then to Bourke to re-configure into an AB Triple and away north again. So only a short visit home and back into the frey. Till next week, Safe Travellling, Rod Hannifey.  

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5th June 2011 Darwin Ho!

Goodaye all, back into Mt Isa yesterday from Darwin, where it was nice and warm and muggy for all you southerners freezing your bits off. A bit of a drive with three trailers, lots of photos and some realisations. I stopped at some roadhouses and some truck bays and some new green reflector bays, but was talking with a driver at Truck Central, the big new roadtrain site at Wishart and he said his wife had come up for a trip and made a comment.

A moment aside here, what a good site, plenty of room for parking up to triples, a loading ramp, (which I used to double up trailers) and when I suggested it was good BP had built it, some one said (and I tried to ring, but will confirm) that yes BP built the fueling site, but NT Dept of Infrastructure supplied the funds/land for the parking. This has been done in Queensland before at Miriam Vale, but then the servo burnt down and some truckies complained the vanners took it over. It is a better way to get what we need and will be pursued much further.

His wife had said, “How come all the truck bays have bins and nothing else and all the car/caravan bays have toilets and shade and tables?” I had looked at some truck bays, stopped in one to make a phone call and thought they looked big enough, were paved and mostly (a few were missing some signage and the skidmarks confirm others miss them too) well signed. I looked at the many bays for caravans, mostly with NO TRUCK signs and thought they looked OK too.

But once this subject was raised, I looked a lot closer on the way back south. Many years ago, I did a trip up with Simons National Carriers and recall then, the one place with a toilet sign, you could not even park a semi on the shoulder to go and use the loo, let alone a triple and it seems, little has changed. There may have been one southbound caravan bay, where you could park safely on the shoulder, but most not.

So where do truckies go to the loo????????? How can they build some for them and not for us? Yes we can go to truckstops, but so can all the others, caravans have their own showers and toilets in some, but I am yet to see a truck with a toilet, but is that how far removed the road managers are from reality, that they think trucks have toilets?????

So I will be contacting NT Transport and Infrastructure with a list tomorrow on my way south. There are some big gaps. Next truck bay 75K etc, there were only two green reflector bays, but by magic a few more appeared over the last couple of days, and toilets. From Mt Isa to the border, signed stopping bays at least filled the gaps between truck bays, but north from Augathella on the way up I had a strap come loose and was looking for a spot to stop for kilometres. Asked another driver to be told of a spot completely unmarked, but you can turn a triple roadtrain in there, yet wouldn’t even know. That too now has some green reflectors.

So TMR Qld will also be getting a call, but I did try that last week and spent over 30 minutes on the phone till it dropped out.

But then there is the far bigger subject and problem, why are we going backwards with truckstops? I think the blame lies with Woolies and Caltex when they started to build in shopping centres, that became their focus, then Coles/Shell tried to compete and then shut every one of their truckstops, including in Mt Isa which now has bugger all. So now Caltexs such as Yamba, Nebo, Longreach, Wyong, Yarroweah and others have over the last few years, closed their kitchens and we are left with take away crap. But who delivers every single thing they sell, including their fuel and yes, in the suburbs there is one on every corner, but Mt Isa, Longreach and other towns that we supply, now don’t care about us!

It must be said, BP has grown their sites, but even at Ballina they only have takeaway, no kitchen and I can only hope, that is a single change, not their future plans and yes, I have already had that discussion with them. I rang and complained to Shell before, I have had many discussions with Caltex re Longreach and other sites, but where is it all going? Like in covid, how the hell are we supposed to stay fit healthy and not get fatigued, when we can’t get good food, and don’t have suitable places to get good sleep? Is it simply cost cutting, we can get rid of staff and bugger the truckies, they can eat what we dish up? What do you think and have you made your views known to any of the trucking associations or the fuel sellers. Who does it best now, is anyone filling the gaps? Till next week, Safe travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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1st May 2022

Goodaye all, I have cut back on my wordpress account, so cannot put up videos or photos for now. But I have put a video up on my Facebook page Rod Hannifey seeking some common sense and positivity on social media, instead of negativity. Please have a look and I would welcome your comments. I am in Darwin and on Facebook, will have some photos for next week. Till then, Safe Travelling, Rod.

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21st May 2022 Putty Road Truck Drivers Memorial

Goodaye all, I have just returned to Singleton from attending and speaking at the Putty Road Memorial. Yet another one of the few places and times, truckies are recognised. Ten more names of drivers who have died or passed on and who were in the industry, were added today. Like many events, covid has meant a gap in such events and to see truckies attending and family members laying wreaths or flowers and remembering those who have left our roads is very moving.

Last time I attended, I was able to get a permit from NHVR and have the TIV b-double on site. With a few issues re trailers and work, I had thought I would be letting them down, but managed to get loaded Thursday, spent a day and a bit at Singleton and then spoke today, will attend the dinner and then hit the road.

When I pulled up to load Thursday afternoon, I had to wait outside a yard with trucks and trailers inside and a bloke walked up to his fence and said, “I don’t always agree with what you say, but the industry is buggered. I was cleaning out the shed and reading old copies of Truckin’ Life and Truck and Bus and we are still asking for what we wanted fixed then.” He said when I was loaded to come and have a look at his 900.

I started loading, had to jig things around a bit and another local truck, turned up outside. He sat there, perhaps on hourly rate and was happy to wait. Needing to change ends on the tautliners etc, I suggested they bring him in and unload him while I caught up. I did not need to, no one else thought of it, but it was the right thing to do. In loading, it was an ugly load and in the end we got it done, but I really ran out of ratchets and straps, loose light stuff over other stuff and using mezzanine floors, having to double and triple strap, so no 34 pallets on and go. The blokes loading me had been due to finish half an hour earlier.

So now loaded and knowing I had time to spare, I pulled outside so they could lock the gates and the last fellow head home and went to chat with Keith, met his son and looked at his 900. He says it has cost him a lot on money and I thought it must have been a project truck, but he drove it for years and then his son for some as well. It is 95% finished and he has been busy of late, so not had as much time to work on it. It looks magnificent and will go back to do a bit of work when finished.

There were a few old trucks at the Putty Road Memorial, and I spoke with many drivers and at the end, a lady came up to me and said, she enjoyed my talk, but there are some ratbags out there. That has always been the case, the few who behave badly, tailgate cars and caravans, (particularly when then is no place to pass for kilometres) park at the bowser while they get a coffee when there are only two, fail to indicate or thank people when they let them in or out, are the ones others remember and think we are all the same.

So you say, you can’t be perfect all the time and you are right, none of us can. Like you, I make mistakes and sometimes do the wrong thing, but I try hard not to, I will own up and I will thank others. A few weeks ago, I pulled out into a merge lane and the fellow in the next (and totally separate) lane beside me went off. He knew my boss, he knew my truck and I would not have a job by the end of the day. I honestly could not work out what his problem was and thought it must have been the truck I had pulled out across, coming in the other direction. It was one of those intersections we all hate, you wait and wait and then have to pick the best spot to get out in a loaded b-double.

The one going the other way did not have a problem, but the bloke I pulled out beside kept on for 5 minutes, even after I had apologised (and I have made certain I was in the right, there is a separate merge lane beside his which they can’t access, it is designed and signed that way) and I nearly caused a big crash etc. In the end others told him to pull his head in. Now the poor bugger may have had a bad day, he may simply, once having started his rant, not wanted to accept he had made a mistake, but nothing happened and he could simply have said, “Sorry mate”.

If we can’t work together, when no one else really cares about us, then what hope have we got? Yes in my talk today I spoke of losing a mate, Chris Harmer, how important such mates are on the road, about making an effort, joining an association or group of some kind, ringing road authorities to report road conditions and how yes, we are still asking for the same stuff we wanted fixed 20 years ago. Why is that and what can we do?

When old mate with the 900 did thank me for the green reflectors, I at least felt I had not completely let him down. I agreed we have not solved all the problems, if any, but what is the alternative? I can just walk away and have a normal drivers life, or I can keep trying. I will, what will you do?

Congratulations to the organisers and the locals who support the Putty Road Memorial, the rain may have had an impact, it did come and go, but they as I said, are one of the few industry groups who recognise and value drivers and we need much more of that from where I sit. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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14th May 2022 Farewell Mr Positive.

Goodaye all, here I am in rainy Brisbane, got in last night, waiting to find a way north west, or north then west. Seems some roads are closed again. I know it is my fault for the rain, getting the truck washed last week and not even a photo to show for it and then it rained on the way home Saturday night. Tomorrow will check the maps and see where and when I can go. This morning, cleaned out the toolboxes, the cab, caught up on paperwork and this afternoon, had Simon from Atlas Balance bring me out some late lunch and some stickers for the truck.

Years ago, Ken Wilkie had balance rings on his Kenworth I think, plus Cats Eyes for the tyre pressures and a special oil filter, so he was keen to look at what was then, a bit outside the norm. Simon, after years of having them made overseas, bit the bullet and now has them made here to his spec and they will fit all trucks.

I was visiting Dubbo during the week as I do occasionally, got a couple of minor gate repairs done, fitted some hooks for EIPs and had the trailers serviced. Then got the steer tyres rotated and fitted the balance rings we could not do last week. The truck was at about 57000 k then and my first impression was that I could “feel” the road more and having driven to Moree, unloaded and reloaded then back to Newcastle to get a service, it felt more secure in the bucketing rain I drove in nearly all the way. Down the track we will do the drive and see what else changes.

A big week-end next week-end, Dubbo show, election and I am to talk at the Putty Road Memorial, if I can get there or anywhere with this rain, so another week-end away from home and family, but that is what we do. With this rain, I am only getting wet and messed about, others have lost everything and some, more than once in two months.

I have had an approach about attending a caravan show in Queensland, someone has seen our videos on truck rest areas and Caravans and Roadtrains, highly recommended viewing for all (and the drone footage of a triple overtaking a triple is awesome) at www.whitelinetv.com.au

If you visit the whiteline site, you may see some videos about Mr Positive, Chris Harmer. I knew Chris for over 30 years and whilst he was on and off the road and in different jobs over those years, his last with Burkinshaws and before that Shearers in Wagga, he had a love for trucks and life I have seen in few people.

I had hoped to be able to take part in the interviews, but was always going the wrong way when it could be arranged with Chris. He went to work on a Tuesday, had a headache on the Wednesday and was in hospital with a brain tumour by the end of the week. There are three videos, “Mr Positive” “A Catch up” and the last, an “Interview with Mr Positive”. Having raised this site, I have just watched the last one. Chris passed away in February. I did speak with him the week before he died and as always at the end, he would tell me to stay safe.

Over the last 5 or so years before his illness, we would talk weekly, sometimes just a catch up, he would be on the road and call me, or vice versa. We would discuss the world’s problems, then our own and he was often a good sounding board for ideas, or simply to get the weight of the world off my shoulders. Our longest chat I think went for well over 3 hours and there was little we did not discuss. To have a friend like that to talk to, is something we often need, but don’t always have.

I miss him and mourn his passing, but in watching the videos, you cannot fault his faith, his positivity and his resolve. He had children with special needs and that weighed on him and put pressure on him and his wife. He had changed his jobs over time to be home more, Burkinshaws went out of their way to support him and I would like to recognise and thank them for that. They bought him a 700 HP Volvo, their first, they specced the SAR for him before he was forced to retire, but I think it was a very special relationship, again, one few drivers have with their employer. From where I sit, each thought the other a part of their family.

So Goodbye Mr Positive, I do hope you have found peace in heaven and to all us left on this earth, I hope you have a friend who is as special. If you don’t, perhaps you can be that special friend to another. I miss our chats and hope you travel safe Chris, farewell for now. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.