STEPPING UP TO THE 610
Brian Barnik was offered a job as the regular driver of a new Kenworth T610 SAR. He jumped at the opportunity, write Peter and Di Schlenk
KENWORTH’S NEW T610 models have hit the ground running with a number of fleet operators snapping them up.
McPherson’s Interstate Transport, based at Myrtleford in Victoria’s high country, was one of the first to purchase a T610 SAR, with driver Brian Barnik being the lucky recipient. Brian jumped out of a Transtar to drive the 610 and really noticed the difference with the modern Kenworth.
“This engine feels like you are in a plane taking off – it has a nice note to it as well,” Brian smiles. “I could really get used to driving this.”
The SAR is kept busy doing Carter Holt Harvey work, carrying timber to the mainland capitals of Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne.
“No-one knows what it is,” Brian says of the new Kenworth. “It doesn’t have many badges, just one Kenworth badge on the grille.
“I can’t fault it, really. There have been a few minor things but the ride is exceptional. On the run from here to Adelaide I didn’t feel a bump.”
The T610 SAR looks the goods in McPherson’s colours and Brian takes a lot of pride in it, just as he does with his own Kenworth.
“I’ve got a 1978 Kenworth with an 8V92 Detroit in it and am restoring it slowly. It was originally a Goulburn-based truck and is a very original old girl.”
Brian is a Kenworth man through and through. He even has a Kenworth tattoo to back it up.
However, he admits he’s not crazy about the plastic switches and the curtain tracks on the new model, but he’s more than happy with the cab space and the smooth ride.
“The X15 Euro 5 Cummins sounds great and pulls very well. Alan [McPherson] has specced it up very heavily with the intention of doing some float work later.”
McPherson’s also has its own earthmoving and landscape business in Myrtlefield. Eventually the truck will be fitted with hydraulics.
Landing the job in the T610 allows Brian to work out of his home town.
“I grew up in Myrtleford and it’s good to be here. My mum and dad are getting on, so now I can help the old man a bit.”
Brian has been in and around trucks for decades. Although his parents weren’t involved in the transport industry, they were friends of the Rouse family, leading him to start work at John Rouse Transport’s yard before he even left school. There he would help wash and grease the trucks.
Back then John Rouse Transport had three trucks in its fleet, but now John’s son Kurt runs over a dozen. It led to led Brian doing 15 years as a mechanic and 17 years driving.
“I just loved trucks. It’s a disease,” he exclaims.
“Once you are into them you can’t get out of them.”
By the time Brian was 19 he was looking for a change of scenery and headed for Queensland, landing a job working on Peterbilts.
“I enjoyed doing that. Peterbilts
“This engine feels like you are in a plane taking off – it has a nice note to it”
are a different class of truck but I got the itch to drive and started with Richers Transport in Maryborough.
“That was my first interstate job, running down to Sydney in a Mack Vision. That was my first banger and was followed by an Iveco Powerstar. I thought that was flash.”
Based in Hervey Bay, Brian went to work carting milk out of Ipswich to Hervey Bay.
Then came a stint with Emerald Refrigerated Haulage running supplies out to the mines.
“They were yellow and white rigs. It was all hand unloading and that was very different, but it was a cool job.”
A few other jobs followed, including a stay with Geoff Richards Transport doing produce and express.
The move back down south came in 2013 and Brian found a job in Melbourne but left because of continuing maintenance issues, which led to regular run-ins with the road and transport authorities.
“I was always breaking down; it was a nightmare,” he recalls. “Basically, I pulled the pin and then Macca [Alan McPherson] came and saw me.”
Working out of Myrtleford also means more family time with wife Melissa and daughters Milena (Millie) and Haylee, although it’s not unusual to see one of them alongside Brian in the truck.
“Melissa and I travelled all over Australia together in the truck, even after Millie was born,” he says.
“A friend of mine calls her ‘Parking Bay’ as that was the only time you got to see her. We always caught up with mates and friends in parking bays,” he laughs.
Melissa doesn’t have a truck licence but enjoys going along for the ride.
“She came with me to Sydney last week,” Brian continues.
“I’ve always done the family thing; trying to take the family or one of the girls when they’re on school holidays. And there is plenty of room in the T610.”
The Barnik family: From left, Melissa, Milena, Haylee and Brian
The T610 SAR at Myrtleford, Victoria, with Mount Buffalo National Park in the background