HAUL­ING ‘GRUMPY’ FREIGHT

Be­hind the wheel of a Ken­worth T409 SAR, Reuben Har­rap has the task of haul­ing ‘dis­grun­tled’ veg­eta­bles from Bund­aberg to all points south. Peter and Di Sch­lenk write

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver -

REUBEN HAR­RAP drives a Ken­worth T409 SAR for Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated Trans­port. How­ever, when Owner//Driver caught up with Reuben, he was in Ade­laide un­load­ing pro­duce which he hauled down from Bund­aberg.

“The pro­duce is headed for Perth,” he ex­plains. “It was cross-docked onto a road train that will go two-up to Perth. We do the oc­ca­sional load to Perth but it de­pends on how busy we are and who’s avail­able.”

The Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated Trans­port fleet, owned by Al­lan and Les MacDonald, com­prises 15 in­ter­state trucks, namely Ken­worths or West­ern Stars.

Reuben has been driv­ing with the com­pany for close to a year, his pre­vi­ous five years spent with Ge­off Richards Trans­port.

How­ever, he was look­ing at get­ting a job back around his home town of Bund­aberg when the po­si­tion came up with Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated.

“I am used to big­ger Ken­worths but this is quite a good lit­tle truck,” he says of the near-new T409 SAR.

Reuben is sur­prised how well the 550hp Cummins per­forms, es­pe­cially that it’s a Euro 5 en­gine.

It’s cou­pled to an 18-speed Road­ranger man­ual gear­box.

“Don’t men­tion the word au­to­matic,” he laughs. “I would be ap­ply­ing for another job if some­one gave me an au­to­matic. I know they’re get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter but no, I am just not a fan of them.”

Reuben says the SAR was bought to a pull a 34-pal­let B-dou­ble com­bi­na­tion, its trail­ers em­bla­zoned with the liv­ery of Cross Fam­ily Farms, one of Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated Trans­port’s top cus­tomers. It’s a clever de­sign with the un­happy veg­eta­bles mak­ing ref­er­ence to the name Cross.

“They have taken the Cross theme right through the pro­duce and it at­tracts a fair bit of at­ten­tion,” Reuben con­tin­ues.

The Cross fam­ily are Bund­aberg grow­ers and were happy to keep the busi­ness re­la­tion­ship lo­cal by re­cruit­ing Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated.

“That’s good for us and keeps us with this freight,” Reuben says. “It’s nice when coun­try peo­ple look af­ter the lo­cal busi­nesses and, in turn, we give them the very best of ser­vice.

“They know that we go di­rect to wher­ever they need. Back home the lo­cal blokes com­pete with the big­ger boys but we seem to be hold­ing our own quite well.

“It’s all about ser­vice, that’s the main thing.”

Oddly enough, Reuben’s first in­volve­ment in trans­port be­gan in Ade­laide where his father, Ron Brook, started in the taxi truck busi­ness there 45 years ago.

“They were the black and white ones,” Reuben says. “I have pho­tos of me, not even six months of age, perched up on the bon­net of one of dad’s Bed­fords.

“My great-grand­fa­ther Eric was the first to have buses on the Gold Coast, so the fam­ily has been in­volved in trans­port for a long time.”

Reuben says his first time driv­ing a truck was in a Ford LTL with a Cummins 903, trav­el­ling out to the mines at Townsville pick­ing up

“It’s all about ser­vice, that’s the main thing”

elec­tric mo­tors out of the Haulpaks and tak­ing them back to Mackay to be ser­viced and over­hauled be­fore re­turn­ing with fresh ones.

“That came af­ter do­ing seven years in the mil­i­tary; I’ve been driv­ing pretty much ever since.”

The min­ing down­turn has had a big ef­fect on many Queens­land com­pa­nies, so Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated has steered clear of mine work and tip­pers, spe­cial­is­ing in re­frig­er­ated goods and some gen­eral freight. Its trucks don’t even travel fur­ther up the coast than Bund­aberg North.

“As soon as we get into Bundy we have our breaks, turn around and head back south,” Reuben says.

As with most long-haul driv­ers trav­el­ling the Bruce High­way, Reuben says the con­di­tions are an on­go­ing is­sue, al­though he be­lieves Queens­land’s roads in gen­eral are bet­ter than they were 20 years ago. How­ever, it’s the truck-spe­cific rules that grate him.

“We are prob­a­bly the most over­gov­erned, over-po­liced in­dus­try in Aus­tralia,” he says.

“We are meant to have a na­tional scheme so there has to be some give and take be­tween the states. Un­for­tu­nately, some states will not give and some will not take.”

Reuben would like to see a max­i­mum of 34-pal­let B-dou­bles with ex­tra room given up front to pro­vide more com­fort for the driver.

“With com­pa­nies want­ing to be com­pet­i­tive and carry as much freight as pos­si­ble, the trail­ers are con­tin­u­ing to in­crease and that’s the prob­lem.

“You are then re­stricted to what you can put in front and when you spend 300-plus days an­nu­ally in a tin can, they can’t un­der­stand it.

“Think about the driv­ers, put us first and not just the big com­pa­nies.”

At any rate, Reuben was look­ing for­ward to a night off in Ade­laide, one that he says could in­volve hav­ing a cou­ple of beers with mates.

Bund­aberg Re­frig­er­ated Trans­port’s near-new Ken­worth T409 SAR

Rueben Har­rap calls the Queens­land city of Bund­aberg home

Th­ese veg­eta­bles are not just ‘grumpy’, they’re Cross

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