ISPY: Rants and resolutions
Your latest news from on the road of Australia
Americans taken by the bridge
A GROUP of retired American truck drivers spent some time together Down Under during December and that included a visit to Tasmania.
One of the things that amazed them the most was the historical Richmond Bridge about 25km from Hobart in southern Tassie.
Convicts who built Australia’s oldest bridge way back in 1823 (opened 1825) would be amazed that caravans and trucks up to 25 tonnes are travelling across it in the year 2018.
It spans the Coal River and hundreds of tourists from around the world and Australia visit Richmond daily.
Spy has visited Richmond Bridge numerous times over the past 20 years and it never seems to lose its appeal.
The Americans also visited the old Richmond Jail, had a pie at the nearby bakery and drove 90km to infamous Port Arthur.
During late April of 1996, there was a mass shooting dubbed the Port Arthur Massacre there in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded.
The Americans also took the scenic drive up the Tamar Valley and stopped off at Beaconsfield.
Back in April 2006, about 925m below the surface a section of the mine collapsed which later resulted in one of the biggest rescues in Australian history.
It was an educational trip.
Lonely truckie’s trip down memory lane
A FORMER well known owner-operator started visiting a hotel public bar during afternoons in mid-December in the lead up to Christmas and always sat by himself sipping on a cold beer.
The bar is popular with off-duty truckies and has motel accommodation where some out-of-towners stay.
Curiosity got the better of a couple of the truckies who bought the gent a beer and he soon started telling them his story.
They gleaned he was aged in his 70s and had retired from the road transport industry about five years ago after having worked in every Aussie state.
“I was married four times and add to that two de facto relationships but I am on my own now,” he said.
Our mate said he had five adult sons or daughters, as well as numerous grandkids and a couple of great-grandkids.
Despite this, he hardly ever sees any of them.
“We all live in different places so I only see some of them from time to time.”
He reminisced about owning a taxi licence for several years while having a break from driving trucks and said loneliness was the reason he came down to the pub which he lives near.
“I mainly keep to myself but get fellas like you pair coming up to me some days and enjoy the yarns. With my health being not the best that is good for me whilst having a few coldies,” he said.
He became a bit emotional when speaking about how he felt family had forgotten about him.
Albeit acknowledging the tyranny of distance was a factor, however in the days of email and the internet it wouldn’t be difficult for them to flick him a message.
“I have no doubt that when you get older many younger members of the family don’t have much to do with you,” he said.
Pretty good point that, and one most of us have been guilty of.
Radio rants positive
About every day at roadhouses or rest areas, you will hear truckies whining about the rubbish others rave on about during two-way radio conversations.
There is plenty of negative remarks and sometimes abuse among the humour and straight talk.
Some of it can be highly offensive, so it was good to hear of these following reports.
Deep in the Queensland outback between Julia Creek and the NT border town of Camooweal, truckies have been reporting lots of cattle on the road.
Numerous incidences have come to Spy of drivers getting on the radio and reporting this to oncoming truckies.
And there are some very long and heavy vehicles on the Flinders Highway between coastal Townsville and Cloncurry and the Barkly Highway from the “Gully” to Mt Isa and further on the border.
These truckies have also been advising vehicles towing caravans and car drivers about the cattle.
Strange races six
SIX truckies were sitting on one of those sturdy concrete seats at a rest area yarning about the subject of “strange races” they had been to over the years.
It came up after one said he had been lucky enough late this year to be at the Melbourne Racing Carnival.
One of the lads mentioned he had been to mud crabs races at Broome in WA and Cooktown in Queensland.
He also remembered some years ago going to the Yabby Races at Kajabbi in Queensland and another chipped in and told of having some fun at cane toad races at Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island.
As they continued, the type of races seemed to get even more unusual. One had been to lizard races at Eulo and the last fellow checked out cockroach sprints.
All of these events had raised money for charities and had attracted lots of spectators.
Spy once attended a type of race which spun them all out.
Ferret races were held behind a pub in northern Tasmania.
The ferrets, which were banned in most other parts of Australia, were placed in clear pipes and were a real spectacle.
A penny for your thought
WHILE on the very subject of races, Spy hears some Victorian truckies will be in the support team for a competitor at the annual penny farthing races soon.
The National Penny Farthing Championships will be held around the streets of the delightful at Evandale in Tasmania on Saturday, February 24.
Spectators usually pack the streets which form the course for the races and it certainly is racing with a genuine difference.
As part of the championships, there has generally been a 25km road race.
BY NOW most of us will have broken our New Year’s resolutions.
Temptation will have over desires to lose weight, give up smoking, drinking and a variety of other things.
Spy was sitting near several truckies in a bar frequented by other drivers as they all spoke about such resolutions.
Near them was an old mate named John Barsa who hails from Murray Island in the Torres Strait.
“I gave up smoking 10 years ago and haven’t touched one since,” John said.
His aim during 2018 is to refrain from all fizzy soft drinks.
During 2017, Spy has been asked on many occasions about a driver named Julien who managed to give up smoking about being hypnotised.
So I checked with Julien and he advises that is still off the dreaded durries – confirmed by his mates.
WORK OF ART: A bus travels over Tasmania’s historical Richmond Bridge in 2017.