When I moved back to live in Western Australia in 2002 the main reason was … well the main reason was that Millie had already moved back, bringing with her Gee who had had a rough year after dropping out of uni … but the other main reason was that WA had no driving hours laws, no policemen pulling you up every day seeking out faults in your log book. Of course I made a nonsense of that rationale by promptly getting a job with Sam and Dragan and running backwards and forwards between Perth and north Queensland for a year, racing the two-up teams by dodging around cameras, cheating on my log book and skimping on sleep, until one of Dragan’s mates, a young Serbian “experienced” on the Belgrade – Berlin run, foisted on me for a hot-shot to Darwin, rolled us over on the first night out.
I hitched a lift with a lady Aboriginal magistrate to where Millie was living and working in Newman and after a short holiday there got into bulk cartage – no ropes or chains! – within WA. Eventually driving hours were regulated, but they were never onerously enforced, and were/are easy to live with – 15 hours/day up to 168 hours a fortnight, with mandatory 7 hour breaks each night and two 24 hour breaks every two weeks. At the height of the mining boom, with good hourly rates including for breaks, we were making as much as members of parliament, though without the ‘electoral allowances’.
Eastern states driving hours were for years 12 hours driving, 12 hours breaks per day, not much fun when you’re a long way from home and getting paid by the kilometre, but they are now, under the recent National Heavy Vehicle (NHVR) scheme a bit better at 14 hours per day, minimum 7 hours break each night and one day off each week, though with cameras now in SA as well as NSW – cheating not possible!. For most of last year, back again with Sam and Dragan, I was running to Brisbane or Sydney, sitting for a couple of days and then off back home for a couple of more days off, one round trip a fortnight, regular as clockwork. But since November I have been running mostly Perth Melbourne which round trip is theoretically do-able before a 24 hour break is due but which despite frequently involving side trips to Albury, Canberra and Sydney I seem to be more and more often doing every week and a half, so 5,500 kms a week instead of 4,000, and 60 hours a week and days of loading/unloading instead of 45 .
I want to get off!
Last trip was typical – I left Perth on Friday, dropped a car in Adelaide on Sunday night, delivered to Dandenong – as far across Melbourne as you can get – on Monday. Ran my trailers up to a mine near Bendigo, was meant to be home mid Thursday but was at the last minute given a side delivery to Roxby Downs (in north central South Australia) so had to convert my morning with B3 into a 24 hour break, did the Roxby Downs, was sent back to Adelaide to fill the empty space on my back trailer, got home and unloaded yesterday (Sat) morning on what was to be my last trip – a year to the day since I started – before I bought my own trailers, to find my name on a manifest to Roxby Downs and Rozelle (!!!! Darling Harbour, central Sydney !!!) due out lunchtime today.
I have a review to write – Gerald Murnane’s A Million Windows which I am getting to the stage of barely remembering; I am writing thousand word essays (seriously!) for my NHVR accreditation, far more rigorous than the joke M.Bus in Logistics I did at RMIT; I have the accounts for quarterly company tax due and am at the deadline for last year’s personal tax; I have family to see, bills to pay. In three hours I have a meeting scheduled with Sam and Dragan. We will finalize which trailers I am buying and, maybe, how much I will be paid (they pay ok but it’s like pulling teeth). We will finalize that I DO NOT DO SYDNEY.
After that I am hopeful of settling back to one trip a fortnight and as they say a better work life balance. I bloody hope so anyway.
Recent audiobooks (though it’s a couple of weeks since I brought this list up to date)
Philippa Gregory (F, Eng), The Other Queen (2008)
Michael Kataki (M, USA), Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts from a Life (2018)
Michael Arntfield (M, USA), Mad City (2017) True Crime, Too long!
Teresa Driscoll (F, USA), The Friend (2018)
Dashiell Hammett (M, USA), The Maltese Falcon (1930)
Sue Grafton (F, USA), X (2015)
Ann Granger (F, Eng), Keeping Bad Company (1997)
I have started at a new library, my fourth, as I wear out their collections. This one, Cockburn seems to have some excellent SF and old classics. I have also downloaded some books from LibriVox – in particular The Vicar of Wakefield.
Elizabeth Jolley, The Georges’ Wife (1993)
Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows
Thea Astley, Collected Stories