A highway haven
Tarcutta is a top stop for truck drivers, writes James Stanford
VERY little happens in most Australian country towns at midnight on Tuesdays, but Tarcutta is not your normal country town.
The NSW hamlet, about halfway between Melbourne and Sydney on the Hume Highway, has a population of about 300 but it turns into a bustling truck city at night.
There is plenty of passing trade during the day but it’s late at night that Tarcutta comes alive as truck drivers working Australia’s busiest road stop for a rest or swap trailers.
A storm passes through the night I visit but bad weather hasn’t made this place any quieter. I do a survey of the main street and just after midnight there are 50 trucks parked in the centre strip. There is also a purpose-built trailer swap area and there are 50-odd trucks in here as well.
A steady flow of trucks trundle through the main street at an average of four a minute.
I meet Jarrod Cross coming out of the service station with a coffee. He runs Statewide Freight Management and has driven from Mel- bourne with a load of margarine on the back of his International Eagle. Instead of running through, he is swapping trailers with Shaun Beckley who left Sydney with general produce on his Mack Superliner bound for Melbourne.
This way they can have their half-hour break and head for home.
Tarcutta is the perfect place to stop, Cross says. ‘‘This is pretty much exactly halfway so it makes sense to do the swap here,’’ he says.
‘‘You work out when you can get loaded, make sure you get enough rest for the log book and then you set off at about the same time.’’
The rain is getting worse so I head back to the main street and step into the Halfway Cafe. Customers are enjoying the warm atmosphere and tucking into their midnight dinners.
Caron Pincott has just taken over the business, which is open from 7am to 3am the next day.
She says truck drivers come here because of the friendly staff and the proper meals, all of which are served with vegetables.
The cafe, as well as the rest of Tarcutta, is facing an uncertain future with a bypass due to take the highway around the town from September next year.
Tarcutta is also home to the Australian Truck Drivers’ Memorial, which commemorates drivers who lost their lives at work.
All change: many drivers swap their trailers in Tarcutta and get a chance to head back home.