I finished loading at the depot in Acacia Ridge, a southern suburb of Brisbane then drove towards the transport department a few kilometres away on Kessels road, where after purchasing a new log book and filling in the required information, I headed off into the late afternoon sun, fighting my way through traffic, seemingly endless traffic lights, idiot drivers, who, at the last minute pull their car in front of a fully laden truck slowing down to stop and at the same time trying to keep a safe stopping distance.
Finally merging onto the south east freeway, feeling better already away from the darting kamikaze car drivers, I’m picking up speed, fourth low, into fourth high, then fifth low, I continue through the gears, looking in my mirror thinking how the “pig” trailer is towing nicely after the repairs that were done to the drawbar, I chuckle to myself remembering a very young boy asking,( when he heard me call my trailer a “pig”)
“mister do you carry pigs’ in there”
It was amusing explaining to him that a “pig” trailer has a rigid set of wheels and axel or axle’s usually near or at the centre of a trailer, like a caravan, and a “dog” trailer has a swivel set of wheels at the front of a trailer this set of wheels and axel or axle’s are called a “dolly”.
My attention is diverted to the crackling C.B. radio mounted in the overhead consol
“Dave, got a copy mate”
calling me is Vic, one of my child hood school mates; I grabbed the mike
“heading out again I see”
“full load to Mackay eh! You just getting in? What’s it like behind you?”
“Haven’t seen any scalies since Gympie, were a couple of plain wrappers hanging around though”.
Mmm!! Plain wrappers, unmarked police cars, must be because of the long weekend I thought,
“bout time you give furniture removals away isn’t it?”
laughing I replied “what and end up a fat, lazy general carrier like you, I don’t think so”
Vic laughs then says “keep it safe, catch you on the flipside” as the radio starts to loose its range.
Approaching the toll booths just before the Gateway Bridge, I now change back down through the gears until the truck is crawling then, stopping at the booth window, here I pay my toll, now moving away from the booth looking ahead at the upcoming slow grinding climb to the top of the bridge, finally into third high knowing that’s where it will stay until I reach the summit.
What a view! I’m thinking the day couldn’t be any better, the bluest and clearest sky I’ve seen in a long time, to my left looking south, my eyes following the track of the mighty Brisbane river to the city, easily spotting the gold and the blue mirrored AMP skyscrapers glistening in the setting sun, to my right the old now disused power station, huge storage tanks shinning brilliant white from the sun and a small cruise ship heading for the river mouth then into Moreton bay.
Again my attention is diverted once again to the C.B.
“anyone northbound, be careful, other side of Airport drive overpass a Kojack with a Kodak has just set up”.
I often shook my head in disbelief at where and how these blokes think up the terms used on the C.B.
The exhaust brakes, which kept the truck at a constant gentle speed down the steep decent of the bridge, now disengage as I press slightly on the accelerator keeping the truck at a steady momentum, reaching the Airport drive overpass I am reminded of the police on the other side by the several warnings emerging from the C.B. radio. As I breach the top of the overpass I see him, a young highway patrol officer, standing next to his V8 powered Commodore pursuit vehicle, I chuckled as I thought “is this bloke for real” standing there legs apart and slightly bent, arms outstretched, both hands wrapped around a speed gun and to me looking like a modern day Wyatt Earp at the shoot out at the OK corral, I just smiled for the camera as I drove past.
The evening air, its refreshing smell when taking a deep, long, slow breath through one’s nose, filling the lungs to capacity, gives a contented and relaxed feeling, which will definitely remain in ones memory, combined with the almost purring, continuous humming sound from the engine, all seemed to mould together. Glancing in my “driver side” mirror noticing when the truck lurched slightly, then followed by the trailer, from a dip in the road I became mesmerised by how, in the darkness, the long line of red clearance lights took on a snake like effect.
“New it was you mate, you’ll get done one day with those green and blue lights, scalies are cracking down on illegal lights, eh!”
Trevor was approaching heading south and home, driving a company truck with standard lighting and in the darkness I didn’t know who it was until he spoke, Trevor was commenting on my cabin clearance lights, often at night my truck was called a Christmas tree as across the bottom of the bull bar I fitted eight small lights composing of six orange lights and two green bullet lights, on both side mirrors were three orange lights in a vertical line, then across the top of the pantech, in the shape of an arc, was again eight lights, six orange plus two blue bullet lights
“yep! S’pose I’ll have to do something about them one day, what’s it like behind you mate”
“clear as a bell mate, nice night for a drive”
then with a whoooosh!! I was watching his red taillights slowly disappearing into the distance
“Thanks Trev. All clear in front of you, have a safe one mate”.
Some time has passed and there’s been no cars, no other trucks, no wildlife, no moon, just pitch black and apart from John Williamson’s music playing and the movement of my truck, there’s a stillness, a calmness even serenity or call it solitude that now starts to envelope over me, the bull lights shine as far as they can and I can see there is no breeze; the huge gum trees seem to have a gothic eerie appearance as their shape appears to change with the moving shadows, also comes the feeling of loneliness, vulnerability and the silly thoughts that race through one’s mind
What would happen if I had an accident now?
What would become of my wife?
What would happen to my children?
You know its silly but can’t help thinking these, also your mind starts to play funny games, you think you hear things, where is that ticking noise coming from, is it the motor or gearbox, it drives you crazy until you convince yourself its nothing, you think you see things, is that a person in the distance ahead standing about two meters from the edge of the road, so of course you start thinking
What is this idiot doing here late at night out in the middle of nowhere?
what’s his motive?
Is this person a serial killer?
As I get closer will he all of a sudden produce a rifle and fire some shots at me?
I’ve heard of this happening to a couple of other drivers some time ago.
Relief pours from me like sweat on one of those oppressive tropical nights, some bloody “farmer Joe” placed a new cardboard cut-out of a male caricature advertising his fruit and vege. stall up ahead, “stock up on your fresh fruit and vege.” the sign say’s, I’d give him fruit and vege. if I ever caught him, people just don’t realise what these things do to a driver late at night. At least his “employee” diverted me from the “dark side”, well, until the next round anyway.
Did I or did I not catch a quick glimpse at a pair of illuminated eyes in the long grass, yes!, this long grass that just never seems to stop, WOAH!! suddenly there it is, a Kangaroo its not overly big, probably a meter tall standing still, but big enough to write off a car, it darts out from the grass, onto the road, there’s a huge “THUD” when it connects with the bull bar then a slight “tug” on the steering wheel as it goes under the passenger side front wheel, no need to stop, I new it would be dead also unlike a car that can stop in only a matter of meters, to stop my truck takes some distance then takes more distance and time for this fully loaded rig to achieve cruising speed again.
Five hours runs into almost six hours, although my log book states five hours, with no scalies around I’m able to “rig” a half hour hear and there, but the lack of sleep over the last few days are starting to take a toll on me both mentally and physically and I can feel my eyes becoming heavier and gets to the stage you can’t remember certain parts of the trip because you had what is know as a “micro sleep”, very dangerous things these are.
This bird just frightened the living daylights from me, well, at least it woke me from this trance I had drifted into, still six hours to go and I’m nodding off already, yep! It’s going to be a long night, one of my favourite truck stops is not far ahead, I’ll stop and have a break and a cuppa.
Mmm!! thinking to myself
Been a pretty uneventful trip so far!!!.
David J Delaney