Ex­pat New Zealan­der Dion Ped­er­son prefers the long straight stretches of Aus­tralia’s ma­jor high­ways than driv­ing lo­cal around in the con­gested traf­fic of cap­i­tal cities. He chats with Peter and Di Sch­lenk

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver -

DION PED­ER­SON reck­ons he made the right move when he trav­elled across ‘the ditch’ from New Zealand eight years ago.

Dion is cur­rently driv­ing a 2016 Freight­liner Ar­gosy for Dan­de­nong­based Hen­nessy Trans­port. He’s been driv­ing in­ter­state with the com­pany for around two-and-a-half years.

The Gen­er­a­tion 2 Ar­gosy hauls a Vaw­drey 48ft drop deck trailer with a mez­za­nine floor, ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing 48 pal­lets.

“It’s chock­ers at the mo­ment,” Dion smiles as he fin­ishes load­ing up in Mel­bourne.

“I’m on my way to Syd­ney and then to Bris­bane. Tow­ing a sin­gle trailer with gen­er­ally pretty light loads is pretty easy, it’s a great job and I have a great rig.”

Dion has been be­hind the wheel of the Ar­gosy for 12 months. It’s one of three in­ter­state trucks in the Hen­nessy fleet, which also has around a dozen lo­cal trucks do­ing wharf cartage, a lit­tle bit of ex­press and ware­house in­ven­tory man­age­ment and other runs.

The Gen­er­a­tion 2 Ar­gosy re­placed an older model Ar­gosy; the new model pow­ered by a 560hp Detroit Diesel hooked up to an 18-speed man­ual gear­box. And that’s a plus as far as Dion is con­cerned.

“I carry mainly cu­bic and light loads – it’s not too chal­leng­ing on the Hume so a man­ual ’box is good,” he says.

Dion en­joys a set run each week – Mel­bourne to Syd­ney then to Bris­bane and back to Syd­ney and Mel­bourne, un­load­ing and reload­ing in the same cus­tomer’s de­pot in each city. His run starts each Sun­day af­ter an early lunch and fin­ishes on Thurs­day around the same time.

“I get it pretty good,” he says. “And with a set run I can work in with to­day’s rules and reg­u­la­tions.

“I am usu­ally out of each city by 10 or 11 in the morn­ing so it puts me in bed be­fore mid­night.

“No one likes be­ing told when to sleep, so the flex­i­bil­ity with this job is great,” he adds.

Dion’s only fixed time slot is at 7am Mon­day in Syd­ney, so he gets in early and sleeps in the de­pot.

“I am def­i­nitely looked af­ter,” he grins. “My mates keep telling me this is a one-in-a-mil­lion job.”

Dion says driv­ing a new Ar­gosy makes his days and nights a lot eas­ier. And, any­way, the Ar­gosy is the boss’s choice as a high­way rig.

“Over­all, the Ar­gosy is a great truck; it’s quiet and com­fort­able with a great lay­out, and I love the swingout steps,” he says.

“It has a good size sleeper. I live in the damn thing!”

Dion had a TV in­stalled in the pre­vi­ous model, but didn’t bother swap­ping it over: “I found I wasn’t watch­ing it.”

Not quite as en­ter­tain­ing are the dash-mounted cam­eras fit­ted to the

“My mates keep telling me this is a one-in-a-mil­lion job”

Ar­gosy. It’s a grow­ing trend prov­ing in­valu­able when there are ac­ci­dents or close calls.

“The tech­nol­ogy is amaz­ing,” Dion en­thuses. “It’s great to know that all the in­ci­dents caused by the gen­eral pub­lic are recorded as ev­i­dence.”

Be­fore his in­ter­state work, Dion tried his hand at con­tainer work around Mel­bourne. That lasted a mere two weeks. He much prefers to be out on the high­way.

“I couldn’t han­dle be­ing in the city all day, ev­ery day. The other blokes can run around Mel­bourne.”

Mov­ing to long-haul brings its own set of is­sues, namely work di­aries and, of course, what and where to eat. Hence, Dion takes his own meals and fruit from home for his run north, which lasts him through un­til the Tues­day.

“Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day I buy my meals. It’s hard to find good spots but, with a sin­gle, it opens up a few more roads and places to go. You can even get into a town and have a de­cent meal.”

Dion had 12 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing trucks from New Zealand. He says the lure of the job was all about be­ing out on the road and see­ing the coun­try­side.

He’s cer­tainly seen a lot more since his ar­rival in Aus­tralia, do­ing trips across to Perth and up through the cen­tre.

“While the roads over in New Zealand are a lot more twisty and windy, you don’t have the dual car­riage­ways over there like the Hume,” he says.

Be­ing on ba­sic fa­tigue man­age­ment al­lows Dion to run a 14-hour book.

“When they first gave me a 12-hour log­book over here I thought, ‘What do I do af­ter that?’” he laughs.

How­ever, Dion be­lieves im­pos­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions on driv­ers is only lead­ing to non-pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“The ones mak­ing the rules and reg­u­la­tions have no idea of what it’s like to steer a truck, meet times­lots and dead­lines and have never been told when to sleep.

“I am not a big fan of elec­tronic log­books af­ter hear­ing what is go­ing on over in the United States. They are meant to be en­forc­ing it by the end of the year there.

“There are lots of lit­tle is­sues. What if you are forced to shift your truck in the mid­dle of a seven-hour break? Big brother is watch­ing and you can’t just re­lax and do your job.

“But I still en­joy it and am happy do­ing it,” Dion adds. “There is plenty of time al­lo­cated be­tween each drop and the boss leaves me alone, so it’s all good and the job gets done.”

Dion Ped­er­son says driv­ing a sin­gle trailer truck has a lot of ad­van­tages over B-dou­ble work

Dion Ped­er­son, ready to de­part on another in­ter­state run from Mel­bourne

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