ISPY: Rants and res­o­lu­tions

Your lat­est news from on the road of Aus­tralia

Big Rigs - - COLUMN - I SPY ON THE ROAD

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.

New res­o­lu­tions

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.

PHOTO: ISPY

WORK OF ART: A bus trav­els over Tas­ma­nia’s his­tor­i­cal Rich­mond Bridge in 2017.

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