IN FOR THE LONG RUN
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
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