Journal: 002, A New Start

BillH Volvo (2)

Today I am back to my number one love, being an owner driver. I have bought the truck above from a couple of guys I worked for years ago, father and son, Sam and Dragan, and will tow their general freight trailers throughout Australia. For the technically minded the truck is a Volvo FH16-600 bogie drive prime mover, with a 12 speed automatic gearbox, rated at 130 tonnes gross – more than enough for three trailers.

Cowboy that I am, I looked at quite a few flash American-Australian bonnetted trucks with big motors, 18 speed gearboxes and walk-through sleepers, but I couldn’t pin down regular work for them, whereas Dragan, as soon as I spoke to him (about something else) said, ” You looking for a truck? I’ll sell you a truck. With work. Which one do you want?” Just for a couple of years Volvo made this model just for Australia and Norway with a wider sleeper than is acceptable in the European market, the engine is comparable with the biggest American engines, and driver comfort… for someone who has spent a lifetime in sturdy but rough Australian and American trucks driving a Volvo will be a dream. All I need now is a brown hat.

I thought about giving Sam and Dragan false names before I wrote about them, but the truck is recognisable and the trailers more so, so I guess I’ll just have to be careful about what I say. Sam came out from Yugoslavia as a boy, leaving his parents behind. There is a large newspaper page on the wall in the foyer showing him being met at Fremantle by his grandfather. When I first worked for them, Dragan then in his twenties, was very keen on all things Serbian and was an active participant in Serbian dancing. He is a ruggedly handsome man who looks a lot like former Dockers footballer Matthew Pavlich. So while I won’t be able to say too much, if you think some time in the future he is giving me a hard time I want you all to simultaneously imagine him in white tights and a frilly skirt (I’m guessing Serbian dancers look like Greek dancers).

For the time being I’m on two weeks holiday, reminiscing with ex Mrs Legend about being in Europe this time last year (Avignon today after a few days Eurailing into Spain and back out over the Pyrenees), our kids are coming from interstate, last year’s tax is done (as of midnight last night), I have books to read, business stuff to get ready, sleep to catch up on, and I might even resume swimming.

I’ll tell you another time (maybe) about my two previous goes at being an owner driver – neither ended well, but it’s not about the money is it? I first worked for Sam when I moved back to Perth in 2002. I’d been driving road trains Melbourne-Townsville and that exactly suited the work he was doing out of Perth to North Queensland. The best trip he ever gave me involved driving around Australia in ten and a half days: Perth to Cairns northabout via Port Hedland, Katherine and Mt Isa, then part loads out of Townsville and Saraji back to Perth southabout via Broken Hill and Port Augusta (map). I boasted to a mate in the US, but he had already done New Jersey, Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago so I guess he won.


I enjoy Scandanavian crime fiction, but not this one, “the fourth Inspector Anita Sundström mystery”, which is bogus on two levels – the author is neither a woman nor Scandanavian. He’s a Scot living in northern England. The female protagonist’s boyfriend, in this novel anyway, a northern Englander in a Scottish police force, is a nerd and a bore but of course as in every case where a guy author inserts himself into the text, he is a genius in the sack.

For seven hours the police in Malmö, sans Sundström, attempt to solve the murder of a blonde female jogger, while Sundström uses up her holiday with lover boy looking into the death of her beach house next-door neighbour, a retired Swedish diplomat. This involves much tedious exposition of history involving Lenin, Nazis, and the Stasi.

In the eighth and final hour all this is forgotten while we head off on a different track altogether leading to a climax in which it looks like everyone will be killed but they’re not. Very definitely 2 out of 5.


Recent audiobooks

Barbara Vine (F, Eng), A Dark Adapted Eye (1986)
Peter Temple (M, Aust/Vic), Black Tide (1999)
Torquil Macleod (M, Eng), Midnight in Malmö (2015)
Jack London (M, USA), Children of the Frost (1902) here

Currently reading

Justine Ettler, Bohemia Beach, Transit Lounge, Melbourne, 2018

19 thoughts on “Journal: 002, A New Start

  1. Okay, so many thoughts.
    Firstly, this might be TMI but Matthew Pavlich is my hall pass. It’s fine, my husband knows 😉 I CRIED the day he retired (yes, I barrack for Carlton not Fremantle) but I did love watching Pav… So the idea of a Serbian-dancing-Pav-lookalike is quite odd!

    Secondly, although you’ve mentioned Sam and Dragan’s names, I’m thinking that there might not be a huge crossover between readers of your blog and those that know their trucks (and their heritage) at a glance. I could be wrong…. Anyway, I will be on the lookout for white Volvo trucks now!

    Thirdly, around Australia in 10 days. I can’t even fathom how you do it.

    Lastly, enjoy your holidays.


    • I haven’t asked Dragan about his Serbian dancing this time around but he used to be far less reticent about it than I am about being a lit-blogger.
      There will be some crossover as I’m linking my Journal posts to my personal facebook.
      I’m afraid there’s thousands of white Volvos but I’ll put my name on the door (eventually).
      Ahh.. the old days
      Definitely enjoying hols. Had a three hour lunch today with pleasant company, a table on the verandah overlooking the ocean and a cute, young Mornington Penninsula SSB.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LOL …shows you how much I know about trucks, I tend to associate Volvos with tiresome old men with tweedy hats who fall asleep at the traffic lights.
    This new direction for your blog is going to teach me a thing or two, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why I need a brown hat, so I can be a proper Volvo driver. And write to me on Gmail if you think I’m getting too far from lit-blogging, what I intend is to interrogate Australianness using my own experience – how pompous is that! – while hopefully continuing to review 1-2 books a week.


      • I like the journals plus the reviews. Many bloggers do the same thing, especially to give context to the books they’re reading if the blogger reads books set on the same place he/she lives. I also think your short reviews are more entertaining. They sound more like the you I’m getting to know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Melanie, I’m glad you like it, I’m not sure everyone does.I’ve been finding that while I’m busy at work I’m not having time to research reviews. And I want to keep writing, so this is what I have come up with.


  3. I am holidaying in Victoria and drove up to Wodonga yesterday from Melbourne. My friend and I both said the life of a trucker would be too much stress for us (as umpteen road trains went past us in her little, but gutsy Suzuki) . Don’t know how you lads and ladies cope tbh.
    Scandi fiction written by a Scot, that is just wrong sorry! Looking forward to reading more about Australianness from your perspective 🙂


    • Thanks Jenny. Hope you enjoyed the trip. I’d come home the back way, over the Slide (via Yea), the Hume freeway is boring as batshit, and very, very busy, which is why I stay as much as possible out in the bush.


  4. I’m late to the party as I was on my own roadtrip last week – to Tumut via the Hume and home again via the back way. I got back on Saturday night to a number of family commitments, but I’m coming out on top now. I loved this post. You know how I love travelling around Australia – though not in 10 days I must say.

    So, I will thoroughly enjoy your reports – and I loved hearing the background of how you’ve become an owner-driver again even if I understood nothing about your truck description except Volvo and enough for three trailers. That tells me its BIG! When you say sleeper, does that mean the place for you to sleep or does it mean something else?


    • I will experiment with what I write, but somewhere between memoir and I hope (without ever having read much travel writing). And yes the sleeper is the cabin or area of cabin behind the driver with bed, and in my case a fridge under the bed and cupboards wherever they can be squeezed in, and some room to stand up.


  5. Great post, Bill. I will sure follow your driving adventures through Australia.

    PS: I live near a Volvo Trucks plant, they make trucks motors there. Who knows where the motor of your truck has been built?


    • Volvo trucks are assembled in Brisbane from imported components so hey, I might have a French engine. We haven’t had many in our family – my wife had a Renault 12 and my brother a long 15 Citroen (like Maigret!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Light 15. (Unloading has stopped and I had time to look it up. A lovely car, long gone). Glad to have you along on my adventures, and not too many misadventures!

        I looked up Volvo, France too. I should have made the connection to Renault trucks which were sold in Australia, by Volvo, as Macks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s