Driving, Reading, Writing

Journal: 013


A real journal for a change. It’s Saturday, I’m in Brisbane. Here’s how the week went.

Fri 3 Aug. Home waiting for a load. I get an email from work:

Sorry to be annoying but that’s what women do right?

As you may know, Dragan will be taking a leave of absence  which I know I hear you sigh in the background relieved!  He will be out of contact for approx 2 months on a much needed family holiday.  … myself  and the rest of the team … will be here to assist you.  [new Brisbane manager] didn’t work out and will be finishing this week.

[more in the shape up or ship out vein]

At the end of the day Transport Never Stops!  You have chosen to be a Truck Driver,  enjoy the journey.

I don’t recognise the name but it seems Dragan’s sister is going to whip us all into shape.

Go round to Milly’s for tea. Teenage granddaughter is meant to be there but when she finally phones it’s from Fremantle station. I drive down to pick her up. It’s a late, late meal

Sat 4 Aug. Up early, get a fortnight’s food & clothes together, load the ute. Back to Milly’s. Drive teenage granddaughter back to Freo. She has a 9.00 am start at Maccas. Speak to Dragan, he’s happy with the way I, his only subby, am fitting in, looking forward to summer in Serbia. Run one trailer up to the road train assembly at Northam, 100 km east. No driver to bring up the second, so I do it myself. On way by 4.00 pm.

Sun 5 Aug. Run into my old boss at Norseman BP. Stop for a chat. He runs Adelaide Kalgoorlie Karratha. Leaves the boring stuff, Perth – Goldfields to his drivers.

Mon 6 Aug. Late in the afternoon, road train right into Port Adelaide. The depot where I’m to unload is already shut for the day.

Tue 7 Aug. A long, long day! The gates open at 6.00 but it’s nearly 8.00 before the forkies turn to me. A transport co nearby has a roadtrain load to Bris. I use their depot to break-up. Pick up is from Mt Compass, turns out that’s actually Victor Harbour, 80 km south. Adelaide doesn’t change. South Rd is a freeway at the northern end, but for just 5 km, after that it’s stop lights and city traffic all the way, another brief Motorway section, and then some country hills (McLaren Vale if you’re a wine person). It’s mid afternoon before the first trailer is loaded, if I’m back quick night shift will load the second. Back to the depot, swap trailers, the depot manager promises not to lock up before I’m done. All the way down South Rd again in evening peak hour, load, return to the Port, fuel, hook up, head out. Around Lochiel I’m out of hours, out of energy, bed time. If you’ve read Eve Salis’ Hiam you’ll recognise the Lochiel Tyre Monster.

Wed 8 Aug. Over the Flinders Ranges to Gladstone, Jamestown, Peterborough, villages of limestone cottages a hundred years old right on the road, no front yard, then out onto the moonscape plains Yunta, Coburn, Broken Hill, Wilcannia – the once great Darling just a drain carrying sickly green agricultural run-off, river red gums stranded way up the banks, roots reaching down 20, 30 feet to what little water is left – turn north at Cobar to Bourke, then east again, Brewarrina, Walgett.

Thur 9 Aug. Mooree, Goodiwindi once a great forest all this country, still being cleared, burnt off, laser levelled, irrigated with water stolen from the Darling, Bogan, Barwon, McIntyre Rivers by big agri-business and their lackeys in Federal and State parliaments. Up to Toowoomba, hand rear trailer off to Tony who’s waiting on the road in. Through town and down the Range, 30 kph in low gear, out into the lush Lockyer Valley.  Depot. I’m booked to unload first thing in the morning. BP Rocklea for tea. Over the Gateway Bridge. Park up by the wharves on the north side. Sleep.

Fri 10 Aug. Unload. Back to Depot and mandatory 24 hour break. Write up Jane Austen in the lunchroom. Wash the truck. Do some shopping at Redlands Centre. Have horrible, greasy battered ‘barramundi’ for lunch. Toasted sandwiches and one gin & grapefruit for tea. Jason and some drivers are unloading, reloading trailers till late at night. No-one speaks to me, doesn’t look good.


Sat. 11 Aug. As expected, no load home. Consider taking a train into town, spending a couple of nights in a hotel, shop for books, eat out. Can’t be bothered. Write up a post on my father, hope that’s out of my system now! You’ll see it soon but I have a couple of others to do first. A guy comes and sits in the lunchroom with me, Bruce, a talker not a reader. He lives in his truck, drug addict children have used up all his money. We make miles across Australia and America through the afternoon as I keep an eye on Hawthorn – Geelong on the laptop. Old high school girlfriend writes to me, she’s been reading my posts. Warn her I’ll write about her, let her choose her own name.

Real time now. I’m off down the pub for tea.

It’s a walk of a kilometre or so, in the gathering dark, down past the marshalling yards. I use the pedestrian bridge at the Redlands station to cross the line, there’s a dozen girls, teens and pre-teens, Aboriginal, white and one Sudanese (I say Sudanese but how would I know really) hanging out. One 11-12 year old has stuff spread out across one step, a make-up kit maybe, I call out to her and she moves it, thanks me politely, cheekily. Redlands is probably an outer suburb of Ipswich rather than Brisbane, poor working class, fibro houses, light industry, the railways, a tired 30s pub appears deserted and I go to the other one, two storey Federation weatherboard with big verandahs. Old style, 1980s say, inside with a TAB and pokies, customers all my age. I have the $6 calamari special and a couple of beers.

Sun 12 Aug. Writing. Reading. Go for a walk.

Tomorrow 6 am I have the truck booked in for a service, and a trailer to load.


Recent audiobooks

Rudyard Kipling (M, Eng), The Man Who would be King (1888)
Martin Cruz Smith (M, USA), The Girl from Venice (2016)
Jan Jones (F, Eng), Fair Deception (2008)
Herman Koch (M, Netherlands), Dear Mr M (2014)
Ruth Ware (F, Eng), The Lying Game (2017)
Deanna Sletten (F, USA), Finding Libbie (2016)
Jo Nesbo (M, Swe, Macbeth (2018)
Kate Atkinson (F, Eng), Started Early, Took My Dog (2010)
Lee Child (M, USA), One Shot (2005)
Jane Austen (F, Eng), Sense & Sensibility (1811)

Currently reading

Faith Richmond, Remembrance
Anna Kavan, Ice

18 thoughts on “Driving, Reading, Writing

  1. Such a different life to life on the farm, which is where I live. I’m big on home cooked meals so would struggle with the diet. It would be difficult for you to make plans, hey, with all.of the uncertainties about when your next load is coming.


  2. I always remember a trip with uni friends to the High Country. We had a counter meal at a pub and someone in our group ordered a fisherman’s basket It didn’t seem like the sort of place you’d order seafood, given how far we were from the ocean! Anyway, it came out – bright orange crumbs and everything in perfect geometric shapes… I never knew rectangular fish and square scallops existed 😀


    • The real problem is how infrequently you get local seafood at the seafront. It’s so much easier for shops to get frozen boxes of Mekong delta basa from the distributor. But yes, processed fish meat – pressed scraps – is another step too far.


    • It got worse, it’s a week later and I’ve still done little more than a day’s work. But I bet your week was better! Melbourne yet? Hope you’re getting lots of good Oz wine. My favourite bit of France was 3 euro/litre for house wine.


    • Hey Emma, I see I didn’t answer your question, did I like Kipling’s The Man Who Would be King. No, I wouldn’t say ‘like’, but it was interesting in an historical way. Have you read it? I’m not sure that it had a moral – except maybe don’t make yourself out to be a god. Or perhaps one that might have been heeded more recently – don’t join in inter-tribal war in Afghanistan.


      • Yes, I’ve read it, there’s a billet on my blog. It was interesting in an historical way. I had the same thought about not getting involved in Afghanistan.


  3. And now, going through my blog email inbox (which currently has nearly 800 unread emails!), I discover that I hadn’t read this. It was published while we were en route back from Melbourne. (Which we took a long-ish way around – via Shepparton, Rutherglen, Wagga and Junee, over two days. Leisurely, pleasant.)

    Not sure what to say, except like others, I enjoy your journals. I like hearing about the life, the places you drive through, the food. I’m starting to realise what a challenge it is to get work in both directions of a trip.

    And that I have Eva Sallis’ Hiam on my TBR (have had since it came out.) I had no idea a Lochiel monster was involved, but I heard it was a confronting novel. Is it? Not that I shy away from being confronted. (My reading group read her City of sealions, which we enjoyed though I don’t recollect a lot now. And read Dogboy under her original and returned-to name.)


    • I read Hiam for my degree, so about 12 years ago. I think the novel’s ok but the geography is off – it involves a road trip Adel to Darwin but she describes almost nothing beyond Lochiel, ie. the first 100 km. At the time she insisted she’d done the trip. I lamented the missed opportunity to compare the Aust desert with the Yemen.

      Thanks for coming back, you miss very few of mine in the scheme of things.


      • Thanks Bill … I get there in the end I think, but in a higgledy piggledy way. I do like to read your posts.

        As for Hiam, maybe I won’t increase its priority on my TBR pile then.


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