Truck­ing is in the veins

Sil­ver lin­ing be­hind high­way break­down

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Alf Wil­son

A BREAK­DOWN at the small ham­let of Tolga in north Queens­land en­abled Townsville-based driver Robert Pratt to catch up with his mum – for­mer long-time truckie Thelma Pratt-Lewis.

Tolga is a small ham­let on the Ather­ton Table­lands where Big Rigs came across 50-year-old Townsville-based Robert parked there with his Kenworth 501.

“I did a speed sen­sor which needed re­pairs and am fix­ing it my­self af­ter get­ting the parts in Tolga,” Robert said.

“I ar­rived here about 5pm yes­ter­day and had to stay overnight.

Luck­ily for Robert help wasn’t too far away.

In a stroke of good for­tune not of­ten present at a break­down, Robert’s 79-year-old mum Thelma ar­rived in a car and it was a great op­por­tu­nity for Big Rigs to snap a pic­ture of them to­gether.

It is not of­ten Big Rigs gets to be on the spot at such a re­union be­tween a driver and his mum.

“I live at Mill­stream, which is near Raven­shoe also on the Ather­ton Table­lands, and it was great to be able to see Robert again as we only nor­mally see each other a few times a year,” Thelma, who lives about 50km from Tolga, said.

Thelma was her­self a truckie based at Townsville and drove from 1973 to 1997.

The de­light­ful sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian said she had driven a UD Nis­san, Mit­subishi and Sca­nia in her time as a truckie.

“I reg­u­larly did the Townsville to Karumba run and drove to Weipa once with my daugh­ter,” Thelma said.

Fol­low­ing his beloved mum to be­come a truck driver had al­ways been an aim of Robert from a young age.

“I al­ways wanted to drive trucks and have been do­ing it now for more than 30 years,” he said.

Robert had a full load in­clud­ing a white Mack truck, a Blue­bird car and scrap metal.

“The Mack was at Weipa and was car­ry­ing scrap metal and do­ing tow­ing work. It still goes well. The scrap metal is go­ing to Simsmetal in Townsville,” Robert said.

Robert works for Scott Jones East Coast and Tip­per Hire of Mackay and likes the Brute Se­ries Kenworth, which is named the “Gam­bler”.

“It is a very re­li­able truck and I do a run to Weipa usu­ally twice a week. It takes about 30 hours,” he said.

As many truck­ies who travel the mostly red dirt and cor­ru­gated road to Weipa will at­test to, it can be a chal­leng­ing drive.

It is closed to traf­fic in the wet sea­son and Robert did ex­pe­ri­ence some rain on that trip.

“Over­all the road to Weipa is not too bad,” he did con­cede.

PHO­TOS: ALF WIL­SON

HIGH­WAY CATCH-UP: Robert Pratt and his mum Thelma Pratt-Lewis.

Robert Pratt and his Kenworth 501.

The load in­cluded an old Mack and a sedan.

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