Hope and hay

Big Rigs - - NEWS -

Ken­worths and R-Model Macks, with trucks rang­ing from rigids through to B-Triples and dou­ble road trains loaded high with round and square bales of hay and straw.

With traf­fic stopped, the con­voy of 150 trucks and 200 trail­ers slowly pulls out onto the Kid­man Way, farewelled by a large crowd of well-wish­ers lin­ing the road­side.

Over the Mur­rumbidgee River into Grif­fith, the con­voy makes its way through ir­ri­gated or­chards and pas­ture, with large pud­dles of wa­ter on the road­side from an overnight storm, then onto Hill­ston.

The con­voy weaves its way through Hill­ston through an­other crowd of well-wish­ers, and the pace picks up out on the open road.

Paul Betts works his way through the 13-speed Road­ranger in our T401 and we are soon cruis­ing along at 90 kilo­me­tres an hour, about half­way along the line of trucks which is stretched out over a few kilo­me­tres.

There is plenty of good­na­tured ban­ter over the ra­dio as the kilo­me­tres tick by and be­fore long we are slow­ing down to wind through the set­tle­ment of Mount Hope, which con­sists of a Pub and a phone box by the side of the road.

Just be­yond the Dar­ling River at North Bourke the call comes over the ra­dio that a cou­ple of bales have shifted on a truck ahead.

Within a cou­ple of min­utes three trucks have pulled up to help and ex­tra straps are thrown to get the load to Cun­na­mulla safely.

Rolling again we are in a group of five, with Jil­la­roo Jess head­ing our mini-con­voy, how­ever a ris­ing tem­per­a­ture gauge has caused her some con­cern.

Near­ing the bor­der the tem­per­a­ture has sta­bilised and once again the pace picks up with the kilo­me­tre peg show­ing that we are only 140 kilo­me­tres from our des­ti­na­tion.

Cross­ing into Queens­land at Bar­ringun, storm clouds are brew­ing and within 10 min­utes the wipers are on as we pass through a brief shower, un­for­tu­nately not the solid, steady rain that is so des­per­ately needed out here.

As we near Cun­na­mulla the con­voy is spread out over 19 kilo­me­tres and half an hour later we are pulling into town to a huge wel­come at the show­grounds as the trucks line up to park in two lines.

The ramps are dropped on Ge­of­fro’s trailer, the chains un­done and ma­chin­ery is un­loaded for the morn­ing be­fore the hay run­ners head for an evening meal, a few beers and sto­ries.

Al­ready over 30 de­grees at 8am the fol­low­ing morn­ing, the Cun­na­mulla Show­grounds are a hive of ac­tiv­ity with trucks be­ing un­loaded for hay to be col­lected or sent to out­ly­ing prop­er­ties.

Over 100 trailer loads are be­ing de­liv­ered di­rect, with some trucks trav­el­ling up to 260 kilo­me­tres be­yond Cun­na­mulla, whilst back at the show­grounds Paul and Ge­of­fro, along with a num­ber of other trac­tor and tele­han­dler driv­ers are buzzing around shift­ing bales be­tween trucks and stack­ing hay for col­lec­tion.

With the tem­per­a­tures at 42.5 de­grees, the sup­port crews are vital.

By early af­ter­noon over 2000 bales of hay have been un­loaded or sent out, and the trucks are start­ing to come back in af­ter mak­ing their de­liv­er­ies.

Upon com­ple­tion of the de­liv­ery runs, the truck driv­ers who are stay­ing in town for the Satur­day night con­cert head over to cool down and re­lax and swap sto­ries with a few hard-earned beers.

Un­for­tu­nately trucks rarely stay still, and a num­ber of driv­ers have to leave on the Satur­day to get back to their reg­u­lar du­ties, hav­ing do­nated their trucks and time for the cause, with trucks hav­ing come from as far as Tas­ma­nia to take part in the run at con­sid­er­able per­sonal ex­pense.

Such is the case for Paul Betts, who has to re­turn to work on the Mon­day, and with Ge­of­fro hav­ing se­cured a back­load south, the trac­tor and tele­han­dler are quickly loaded and se­cured on Paul’s T401 be­fore the re­turn trip to Bur­rum­but­tock be­gins.

Back down into New South Wales via a quick photo stop at the bor­der and into Bourke we make good time be­fore pulling into the Cal­tex at Co­bar around 9pm for a meal break.

An­other 110 kilo­me­tres down the Kid­man Way, camp is made for the night at the Gil­gun­nia Gold­fields, with the swag rolled out on top of the trailer in the cooler night air.

A pleas­ant end af­ter bear­ing wit­ness to Aus­tralians at their finest.


A FIRST: Scott and Lya Mulchay were do­ing their first hay run.

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