A truckie’s words of wis­dom

Ker­mie looks back at some of his favourite yarns

Big Rigs - - LIFE WITH KERMIE - LIFE WITH KER­MIE GRAHAM HARSANT con­trib­u­tors@bi­grigs.com.au

I WAS flick­ing through some old sto­ries I’d writ­ten, amazed at the things you lot have got­ten up to. The quotes fol­low­ing typ­ify not only those who spoke them but the in­dus­try as a whole.

Sonya Weir: “I was four or five and had been naughty in the truck.

“Mum had had enough, put me out in the desert and told me she was leav­ing me there.

“I re­mem­ber walk­ing be­side the truck. It was prob­a­bly only for a cou­ple of min­utes but it felt a lot longer.

“I knew it was a long way home and I didn’t know the way there.

“I don’t re­mem­ber play­ing up again!”

■ Jack Long: “He came up to me and said, ‘You got a li­cence to drive that truck?’ I didn’t know what he was talk­ing about – I didn’t know about li­cences. He said ‘You got five bob on you?’

“So I gave him five bob and that’s how I got my li­cence.”

■ Spriggy Her­itage: “In my spare time I started spray paint­ing log trucks. Rub ‘em down and wash ‘em on a Fri­day night.

“Satur­day arvo I’d mask them up and spray them.

“On Sun­day morn­ing when they were dry I’d strip the mask­ing off, sil­ver paint the wheels and they were ready to go for Mon­day.

I:’d get 18-20 quid a job. That’s how my money was made.”

■ Paul Witte: “Fig­ur­ing I was a bit over­weight, I de­cided that it was best that I dodge the Maru­lan Weigh­bridge and go up by Wombeyen Caves.

“The road’s so wind­ing that semis (and car­a­vans) were out­lawed from us­ing it.

“Cliffs on one side and straight drops on the other.

“I got to a cor­ner but didn’t make it around and over she top­pled. It was only the bull bar and the tyre rack that caught on some­thing and stopped me from head­ing down a two hun­dred foot drop.

“I con­tacted Cold Stor­age owner, Tony Nivens and he said, “Does it look like go­ing over?” I said, well, it does ac­tu­ally; it doesn’t look too good.

“Tony replied, “Well make sure you’re in the bas­tard if it does!”

■ An­drew (Stropp) Gray: “I got an ex­emp­tion from at­tend­ing school at 14, a teacher stood me up in front of the class and told my mates that I would amount to noth­ing.

“At 18 I bought my first truck, a 1418 Benz.

:I ended up tak­ing that teacher a load of wa­ter and charged him $350 for an hour and a half’s work.

“I said, ‘Re­mem­ber how you stood me up in front of the class all those years ago? Eight trucks – this is the last one to be paid for, ev­ery­thing is owned. This was the eas­i­est $350 I’ve ever earned.’ “

■ Pete Bot­toms: “One day I’m com­ing down Green­mount Hill go­ing to Perth in an F88 Volvo. Some­thing goes BANG and the pedal goes straight to the floor.

“I’m off, I’m gone. No Jake brakes in those days.

“I had a mate in the cab with me and he’s yelling, “We’re done, we’re gone! What we do?”

“I said, ‘Jump!’ So he jumps out and I’m hang­ing on for dear life.

“About half­way down there’s a left-han­der and you’ve got houses there. There was a house with a cut­away drive in it and a tree out front.

“I de­cided I was go­ing to hit that tree dead cen­tre and take my­self out.

So I’ve got the tree lined up dead cen­tre and I’m com­ing at it.

“I don’t know if it was be­cause I was so tired af­ter a long drive that I imag­ined there were two kids in front of the tree, but I swerved at the last sec­ond. One side of the truck has lifted off the ground. I’ve gone bang, into the side of this cut­away drive­way, then up out of that and I’m head­ing straight to­wards the side of this house.

“There’s this big thick edge and you wouldn’t be­lieve it, the truck hit it and that’s how it stopped.

“The trailer dug into the cut­away and that slowed me up one hell of a lot. The hedge did the rest. There I am star­ing at the sky.

“So they bring a tow truck. That’s fine but it’s only a small tow truck and it couldn’t hold the weight. We’re slowly get­ting it out, back­ing up the hill. Mean­while the cops have ar­rived and are di­rect­ing traf­fic.

“The silly bug­gers are let­ting cars through. We’re nearly done when the ca­ble breaks and I’m off down the road again.

“There’s a bloke in a brand-new F100 ute and I’m com­ing straight at him. I’m think­ing, ‘This blokes gone!’ I don’t know how I did it but I got around him, then bang, crash, bang – and I’m back in the hedge again. Sky!”

■ Owen Leech: “I re­mem­ber when a bloke tried to sell us the very first taut­liner. They’ll never work we said. Shows how much we know!”

■ Ruffy Doyle: “In those days the Hume was a goat track. The West­ern High­way to Ade­laide wasn’t any bet­ter and the road to Perth was dirt. The cor­ru­ga­tions would wreck the dash, the truck, every damn thing! Not our spirit though!”

■ Lizard: “I’ve had a life of no re­grets – not one. It was in the blood. Al­ways was.”

Take care of You - Ker­mie.

PHOTO: GREAME HARSANT

WISE WORDS: Ruffy Doyle was one of the many to share his story.

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