Titans beneath the Southern
A brute of a truck and tough driver to match
BIG gear holds a very special fascination to such a wide and varied array of people, as the huge machines roll on through.
Admiring kids of all ages and genders stand motionless tugging at the air in earnest hope of an earshattering blast from the air horns of these much loved titans of the highway.
To those of us whose lives revolve around the heavy transport world, appreciation comes into play, no matter what brand name you care to follow.
The bulldog breed bloodlines may have hit their straps with the introduction of the legendary B-model.
And most likely the pearl of them all were the Bicentennials.
Mack’s extensive pedigree has yet incorporated the commemorative 50th anniversary models into the coveted line-up of tried and proven workhorses.
One such unit is the Limited Edition Southern Cross Mack Titan. Number Seven of the ‘edition’ has found a home in the Ballard stable.
The truck used for livestock haulage mostly in Outback Queensland has a second-generation heavy transport driver and good mate Scott Heatley at the helm.
Just as many of us in the trucking game did, Scott learnt his trade from the knowledge handed down to him from his father.
There is no substitute for hands-on experience.
Scott’s dad, Mick, has that experience in spades. Mick is an old school Blackall Freighters driver and still pulls road trains for Blackall shire.
Other transport operators that have had a huge influence on Scott’s driving career are Dave Bielenberg, Peter Baker and Stumpy Walker.
These blokes also gave freely of their time and well practised know-how.
The value of having someone reliable to pass on the good oil when you strike a snag is immeasurable.
Yes, I have driven with Mick in years gone by. But that doesn’t mean that we are old.
No, it’s just that we know a lot of older people, is our explanation.
I’m quite proud of the fact that I have driven with two generations of competent operators who share a similar passion for the big bangers.
Many of us who spend a fair amount of time out on the black stuff often whiled away the lonely graveyard shift listening to audio books.
Scott always reminds me of one such character from the writer Lee Child. Jack Reacher: he’s a six foot five, 250 pound keg of dynamite when enraged and a gentle giant when he’s not.
Scott tells a good yarn of how he rescued a young calf from the top deck, fearful of it being trampled.
“I just got up in the crate and grabbed it, tucked him under me arm, and climbed out over the side and down onto the ground. Put him in the tool box on the trailer, with a couple of old bags to keep him warm, sweet as a nut mate!”
A story proven when he shows me a photo sent to Scott by the owners of the stock, the calf now grown into a fine, fat beast.
Now who, would have the strength and agility to complete such a feat? Just think about the circumstances here for a minute.
You’re coming out over the top rail, some 4.6m off the ground.
Clambering down the side of a stock crate with the use of one arm, the other arm is clutched onto a weighty, kicking, writhing, mass of frightened bovine.
No, not just anyone could achieve such a task. You’re one tough hombre old mate!
Scott reckons the Ballard Titan is by far the best truck he has ever driven, powered by the full grunt MP10 engine at 685HP with the automated MDrive transmission that seems to be handling the rough stuff in the bush without any issues.
Any bad press that stockies receive is usually unsubstantiated or misinformed.
Blokes like Scott just love their job hauling livestock, and could see themselves doing nothing else, and take huge pride in what they do to the very best of their ability.
Scott reckons to be good stock carrier, you need to be forever mindful of your driving, so the animals keep their footing.
An equal mixture of driver, stockman, vet, bookkeeper and mechanic.
There are so many aspects to our ever-varying job descriptions, beneath its vast canopy of heavy transport. Scott’s story is just a snippet of one.
And I think of him in his Southern Cross driving beneath the Southern Cross in the sky that leads us through the Outback as we drive with pride.
Without trucks our way of life would not survive.
❝up I just got
in the crate and grabbed the calf, tucked him under me arm, and climbed out...
RETURN OF THE MACK: From the Ballard fleet, Mack’s limited edition Southern Cross Titan with driver Scott Heatley.