Journal: 007, Wrong Turns

My old job, a couple of years ago: Where’d the road go?

In January 2011 Anthony Bradanovich, 35, in a triple road train, missed the turnoff to Jundee gold mine outside (very) remote Wiluna, 540 km north of Kalgoorlie and continued on out into the desert, realised after maybe an hour that he had made a mistake and became bogged in the sand attempting to turn around. Not having much water in his cab or any means of communication he began walking back to Wiluna. He was found the next day, dead of heat stroke, 30 km from his truck.

On my first trip in this truck I went to do a pickup from Yandi, an iron ore mine in the Pilbara (the desert region 1,200 to 2,000 km north of Perth), missed the turnoff from the access road to the main gate and kept driving as the road deteriorated into a dirt track. Until I found somewhere safe to turn around my, thankfully empty, triple road train, my next stop looked like being Roy Hill, once a cattle station now Gina’s iron ore mine, 100 km away, cross country.

The wrong turns I have made in trucks are legion. Each time I have to follow directions to somewhere I don’t know, or make my way in the dark to somewhere I have only been in the day, my heart is in my mouth. Towing more than one trailer makes it worse, as each trailer makes both reversing and turning more difficult. In my old job my biggest fear was getting lost on mine sites, and I’ve rung for a grader more than once to tow me out of an impossible situation, or just for a ute to lead me out, though I’ve never actually turned down into a pit.

In this new job unsigned dirt roads aren’t the problem so much as the number of places where the b-double or road train route is a series of left and right turns – Pt Augusta to Renmark (for Sydney) or Broken Hill (for Brisbane), and Bourke to Goondiwindi are examples. But my big problem is negotiating my way around cities. This trip I had deliveries in Adelaide, Bendigo, Melbourne and Sydney. Adelaide and Sydney were ok, the deliveries were only short distances from the main BP truckstops. ‘Bendigo’ turned out to be Fosterville mine, 20 km and a very convoluted route out of town.

I phoned no.3 brother (counting myself as no.1) who has a little farm nearby, from South Australia initially, drove across from Dimboola on the Adel-Melb highway to Marong near Bendigo on bitumen roads so rough I was restricted to 80 kph, didn’t actually miss a turn in St Arnaud but thought I had. I parked for the night at Marong and he took me home for tea and a shower and my sister in law printed out the directions which, next morning I followed successfully (with lots of stops to check), through bush and outer suburbs. Though when I finally got to what proved to be the mine turnoff there was of course no actual sign. Unloaded and another couple of phone calls to #3 I managed to follow (I think!) the b-double route back through Bendigo and on to Melbourne: Dandenong, Carrum Downs and Croydon, suburbs in the outer reaches of the far side of town, involving lots of narrow streets and a peak hour trip back across the city to the freeway north.

Tomorrow (as I write) I have to pick up my trailers which are being loaded nearby in Eastern Creek and top up in Villawood (both in Sydney, if I haven’t made myself clear). How I will get to Villawood or from there back out onto the highway home I had better start researching. (The Horsley Drive goes most of the way but the middle part is not a b-double route).

You might say plug it into Google maps. But I won’t. I won’t switch on GPS, Google already know far too much about me, all my search history for ten years or more, and now I have an Android phone they are no doubt reading and storing my emails – and if you have any doubt about that, mention a product name in an email and see how quickly ‘relevant’ ads appear. Also, I find Maps gives a very poor overview of where you are, and in highlighting your route make it difficult to make out major and minor roads you are crossing. I’m firmly in the hard copy map camp.

The other ‘wrong turns’ I have taken, and buying trucks springs to lots of people’s minds, and leaving Milly to mine, I will leave to another day.


Another back of a woman’s head book cover. Obviously someone thinks it sells books. As you might see below, I’ve listened to a lot of books in the time it took me to drive from Brisbane to Perth and back to Sydney. Lots of crime, Numero Zero, another of Eco’s well written conspiracy stories, a ‘Regency’ (actually William IV) romance, and a couple of “women’s issues” – though the Salyers was more YA teenage angst. I thought The Book Club, which deals with woman in their 40s and 50s, might qualify for GTL’s Fat Fiction as one of the women comes to terms with her ‘matronly’ size.

I should really, and might if I find a paper copy, review Alex Miller’s Lovesong. I had Miller whom I don’t think I’ve read before pigeonholed as outback lit. so the theme of this one was unexpected. It contained a bit of Miller himself – I see he has moved on to fictionalised memoir in The Passage of Love (2017) – as a retired author listens to and rewrites the story of a childless Tunisan woman living in Paris. All stories fill in the time, but they have to reflect the author’s experience for me to find them meaningful, and though a woman reader might say ‘I agree with how that woman feels about being childless’, it didn’t do it for me.

Recent audiobooks

MJ Salyers (F, USA), Appalachian Daughter (2014)
Alex Kava (F, USA), Black Friday (2009)
Mons Kallentoft (M, Swe), Midwinter Sacrifice (2007, Eng. 2011)
Umberto Eco (M, Ital), Numero Zero (2015)
Julia London (F, Eng), The Ruthless Charmer (2000)
Faye Kellerman (F, USA), Blindman’s Bluff (2009)
Peter Grainger (M, Eng), An Accidental Death (2013)
Ruth Rendell (F, Eng), The Veiled One (1988)
Mary Alice Monroe (F, USA), The Book Club (1999)
Alex Miller (M, Aust/Vic), Lovesong (2009)

Currently reading

Gerald Murnane, Border Districts
Miles Franklin, All That Swagger (Actually, I’m carrying it around with me in the vain hope of stopping long enough to get time to make a start on it.)


14 thoughts on “Journal: 007, Wrong Turns

  1. Absolutely fascinating Bill – the challenges of driving and manoeuvring your b-double. They look hard to manoeuvre but I’ve never actually heard a first person account.

    Must say I love google and apple maps, particularly when I’m navigating on my own and, really, when we are in strange cities. I know they are capturing my movements and preferences but just hope I’m strong enough to withstand the onslaught. The convenience is worth it for me. I’m probably naive, but at least I know I am!!


    • B-doubles are annoying because the back of the second trailer seriously cuts corners in a way which a road train of the same length (legal now in WA and parts of Qld and NSW) does not. I was a divisional manager in a major transport company when they were first introduced and the reasons for their introduction were political – they avoided the words ‘road train’ which would have been impossible to introduce in Victoria, and they were and are the ‘vehicle’ for much stricter regulation of vehicle (truck) standards.

      I have always hated giving information to authorities and at a purely practical level, I know google maps data would be used against me in the event of an accident. Anyway, the idea of one entity knowing and retaining your position every minute of every day is Orwellian and that used to be a bad thing. We are willfully abandoning one civil liberty after another.


  2. Thanks for thinking of me, Bill! You’re right that I first wondered why you don’t use Google Maps, but then I realized, based on the locations you are travelling, that the map might not be updated often enough to help you, anyway. Besides, most people are following those maps quite mindlessly. Some people take the same route using the map over and over again because they’ve simply followed it instead of learning the landscape. Because your situation changes based on what you’re hauling and at what time, it’s much smarter for you to learn the landscape. I’m reminded of your haul with the buddy who was supposed to help you learn the landscape.

    And am I to understand that Milly doesn’t read this blog? ❤


    • Another brother commented on facebook that there are other non-Google devices that I could use and which contain all the Australian b-double and road train routes. Sounds more like my cup of tea.

      Milly has read my writing in the (pre-blogging) past, but even when it was specifically about her has refused to comment, so I can’t tell if she reads me now. Quite a few of my wider family seem to follow the blog via Facebook, but none have commented on my representations of them, or of myself.


      • Yes, there are the traditional GPS devices like Tom Tom. They apparently don’t track you like Google and Apple Maps. We have an app on my iPad – MetroView which is one of these types. I don’t use it much now because, as the non-driving navigator, I prefer the look of the Google maps. However, if you’re driving you really aren’t looking a lot but listening to the instructions. But Melanie is right, some people rely so much on these maps that they develop no sense of where they are.


      • I acknowledge I’m going to have to change, and the directions my sister in law printed out were exactly what the navigator would have said. But I do like to have a good overview of where I am, and Google maps lose too much detail in wide views for my taste.


  3. Fascinating, as always. Keep writing these posts, please! (And thanks for the map, very useful to me)

    I’m a GPS adorator, I’m afraid. I’m hopeless with directions, I always get lost and I discovered that when I go several times with the GPS to the same place, I end up remembering the way because I don’t get lost, I take the same route each time and I eventually remember it.

    But it seems safer not to forget how to use paper maps and sense of direction in your case. If technology fails you, you’d better know how to deal with it.


    • Thanks Emma, it’s difficult to judge how the ordinary details of my life sound to a non-truckie, but I’m really enjoying the process of writing it.

      I’m generally pretty good at finding my way after the first time, and my diaries are full of little mud maps to remind me, but I guess I’d better ease my way into the C21st.

      Walking around cities in Europe last year, I wouldn’t ask Milly to switch on Google maps until all else had failed.


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