Road Training

Journal: 043


Many years ago, 35 or so, I was a manager with Fleetxpress, then Australia’s fourth largest transport company and, coincidentally the owner of Luya Julius, a major presence in Qld, started by my great great great grandfather. After giving up truck driving and moving Milly and the kids to Melbourne I was out of work when they employed me as a salesman in Taxi Trucks. When that division was shortly after sold and I was to be made redundant I pointed out to the MD that I was their only employee outside of Accounts with a degree. He put me into Car Carrying as acting State Manager, I dumped the Ford account which was losing money and saved the GMH account, for the cartage of all Holdens throughout Australia, by introducing computerised vehicle tracking.

Unfortunately my complete absence of people skills was already evident and although I set up the new National Car Carrying division, I ended up as National Admin Manager under a newly employed GM. A year or so later Fleetxpress was taken over, I didn’t hit it off with the new owners and I began a decade or so as an independent computer programmer.

Which is by way of saying that I was at the company which introduced B Doubles into Australia (in SA), and got back into trucking just as they were becoming entrenched – was in that last group of drivers able to transition their licences from Heavy Vehicle to Multi Combination without doing the course and the test.

At the turn of this century it was ‘apparent’ that the future lay with B Triples which were then running on a test basis between Geelong and Melbourne and Melbourne and Sydney. I wandered off to WA for 17 years and was considerably surprised on my return to the eastern states to find that they were now giving permits to old fashioned road trains (A trains) and that B Triples were less preferred, especially in Victoria.

This year I have upgraded my own B Double to a B Triple but am struggling to get a permit to cross northern Victoria which is automatic for A trains. Going over last trip I detoured north via Broken Hill, came down to Wentworth and then ran along north of the river (along the Edwards River in fact) to Moama/Echuca, 200 km north of Melbourne, where I broke up to enter Vic. (Map 1)

Coming home I had to do a pick up in Adelaide which meant hooking up at Moama, and then breaking up again to do the 150km between Mildura and the SA border (that is, I had to do the 150 km 3 times – over, back and over). But from there it was a nice run through Loxton and Waikerie right into Adelaide’s northern industrial suburbs, then home (Map 2).

Waking up on Saturday morning in Waikerie, which I haven’t been through for many years, I found I was parked, on bitumen now, exactly where 45 years earlier I had broken down in my old Atkinson, had stripped the motor down in the dust beside the road, to fit a new piston (see The Grapes of Wrath), stripped it down again when I realised the big end bearing shells were coated with sand, then driven off without the sump plug in properly, remembered in time to save the motor, walked back into town where the best replacement I could get was the small bung of a 44 gal drum (200l or 50 US gal.s), siliconed it into place where it stayed until the next and last time, when that poor old girl finally gave up the ghost (her name was Miss Take, but I never did get it painted on).

Atkinson Near Benalla Sep 75

Of course, I’m really just making excuses for not having read or reviewed … anything at all for the best part of a month. Hopefully I won’t get any more work until after this weekend and so will get The Passing of the Aborigines out of the way, as well as Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones which took up a whole trip, Friday till Monday, all that roundabout way from Melbourne to Perth.

Recent audiobooks 

Edith Wharton (F, USA), A Son at the Front (1923)
Jeff van der Meer, (M, USA), Annihilation (2014) SF
Anne Tyler (F, USA), Ladder of Years (1995)
Henry David Thoreau (M, USA), Walden (1854)
Anne Stuart (F, USA), Never Trust a Pirate (2013) Rom.
Lee Child (M, Eng), The Affair (2011) Crime
Dorothy B Hughes (F, USA), The Fallen Sparrow (1942)
Henry Fielding (M, Eng), Tom Jones (1749)
Emily Gould, (F, USA), Friendship (2014)
JD Robb (F, USA), Kindred in Death (2009) SF/Crime
Sayed Kashua  (M, Palestine), Let it be Morning (2006)
Marion Chesney (F, Eng), The Viscount’s Revenge (1983) Rom.
Elizabeth Aston (F, Eng), The Darcy Connection (2008) Rom.
Piper Kerman, (F, USA), Orange is the New Black (2010) Mem.
Andrea Camilleri (M, Ita), The Overnight Kidnapper (2015) Crime
Douglas Adams &  (M, Eng), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1978) BBC radio SF
Peter Fitzsimmons (M, Aus), Eureka (2012) The author’s breathless anticipation every other paragraph left me unexcited. DNF
Sofie Laguna (F, Aus), The Eye of the Sheep (2014) DNF
Daniel H Wilson (M, USA), Robopocalypse (2011) SF
Boris Akunin (M, Rus), The Winter Queen (1998) Crime/His.Fic.

Boris Akunin is the pen name Russian writer Grigori Chkhartishvili uses for his Historical Crime Fiction. Under his own name Chkhartishvili is apparently well known for his work in Japanese. I just want to point out that Bakunin was a famous Russian anarchist and that the author is probably having a little joke here: “Akunin” (悪人) is a Japanese word that translates to “great bad man”. In his novel The Diamond Chariot, the author redefines an “akunin” as a great evil man who creates his own rules (Wikipedia).

Currently Reading

Daisy Bates, The Passing of the Aborigines
Jane Palmer, The Planet Dweller
Jane Palmer, Moving Moosevan
Jamie Marina Lau, Pink Mountain on Locust Island
Chris Owen, Every Mother’s Son is Guilty
Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman
Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent

15 thoughts on “Road Training

  1. Good to see you back. I had a hiatus at the start of the month when issues with the new cats became overwhelming (they and I are fairly OK now) and have been catching up with reviews. Looking forward to hearing what you think of Convenience Store Woman and All Passion Spent!


  2. Lovely to hear from you Bill – with one of your always interesting Journal posts. Love the pic! And enjoyed hearing about some of your early transport jobs.

    As for your books – I love Edith Wharton, and have read Tyler’s Ladder of years.

    Why did you DNF Sofie Laguna? It’s on my TBR and I keep thinking I should read it.


    • Thank you Sue. Eye of the Sheep – I’m struggling here, but it’s a kid’s eye view and I found it really annoying. I just googled an extract from when Laguna won the MF. Still annoying! There’s half a dozen books in there worth reviewing – Let it be Morning by an Arab in Israel (until he’s not); Orange is the new Black; Annihilation (feminist SF by a guy); The Darcy Connection (ok, that was a little joke).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Always enjoy reading about your experiences on the road. You’ve certainly had what HR people like to call a Portfolio Career.
    Hope yiumdomget around to All Passion Spent which was a favourite of mine from last years reading.


    • I have done lots of things, but they’ve mostly circled back to trucking, one way or another.

      I’m not one of those people who won’t read reviews of books they’re about to read, so I went and had a look at yours of All Passion Spent. Now I’m looking forward to some excellent writing and a less than favourite topic, but we’ll press on. I wonder if I’ll focus more on class than you did.


  4. I noticed that you hadn’t shared any book reviews in ages, but I never want to ask people, “HEY. Why aren’t you doing all the free labor faster??” in case something is going on at home. I’ve learned that sometimes when I ask, I get answers like “I put down both my cats” or “my sibling committed suicide.”

    That list of books you have listened to and are listening to is impressive, and there are so many that I want to cherry pick and demand you share your feelings on, especially Kerman, van der Meer, Stuart , Wilson, and Murata.


    • A lot of people opened up to you in their comments to your post about blogging, so I can see why you wouldn’t push them. But feel free to ask me, it’s mostly just long hours at work.

      Murata I reviewed (there’s a link in my answer to Liz). Probably more of your notification problem. Kerman I wrote a whole review just for you in my head, and if I see a paper copy I may yet write it down. Stuart was just fun. Wilson, Robopocalypse I barely remember now, I’m sorry. Annihilation was really interesting, and as I said above, women’s SF by a guy. I thought he did it really well and I’ll now chase up the other two in the series. Have you or Jackie reviewed it?


      • I did see your Murata review and forgot that I had read and commented on it. I went back and realized that Sue had written to me in a comment to you, so I never got the notification.

        Robopocalypse was on my radar when it first came out because it sounded interesting, but I’d forgotten about it.

        Annihilation is a whole trilogy, so I likely won’t read it, but I wanted to see the film. Then I heard the film was terrible. I searched on Jackie’s site and found her review of the audiobook. Here’s the link:


  5. I’ve read something b y Boris Akunin – it was short?long-listed? for the International Foreign fiction prize or the Internaitonal Booker. This is just a hasty reply handicapped by my delinquent eye so I’m not looking it up, you can find it if you put his name in the search box on my blog if so minded, but I do remember something about it being rich with allusions to ?Russian culture which the Anglosphere mostly won’t recognise.


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