South of Young

Todd Ship­ton’s reg­u­lar run to Mel­bourne in Presna Trans­port’s 2013 Volvo FM13 is an easy one now with by­passes along the Hume, write Peter and Di Sch­lenk

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

TODD SHIP­TON knows ex­actly where he’ll be each week, and that suits him just fine.

Driv­ing a Volvo FM13 for Presna Trans­port Ser­vices out of Aus­tralia’s cherry cap­i­tal Young, New South Wales, Todd’s reg­u­lar run is to Mel­bourne and back.

“I’ve been with Presna for 14 years and I know what I am do­ing all the time, and that makes it pretty good,” he says.

Todd said that man­ager Michael Rick­etts is a good bloke to work for, al­though he adds that with many long-term re­la­tion­ships there have been mo­ments. “We have the oc­ca­sional run in but re­spect each other and move on,” he says.

“Once I get home, I don’t touch the truck. I just pull into the yard, fuel it up, park it, they un­load and load it for the fol­low­ing day.

“I head off about 4.30 in the af­ter­noon to re­turn to Mel­bourne.”

The run be­tween Mel­bourne and Young is 600km. Todd says in pre­vi­ous years he’d go through Wagga Wagga but now with the Hume by­pass­ing Hol­brook and Tar­cutta, he shoots straight back up the Hume, turn­ing off at Coolac with the fi­nal run home only 90km.

“I’m on the Hume High­way the vast ma­jor­ity of the time and the 600km is very easy,” he said.

“I can ei­ther make it all the way down or stop at 11pm, so I can get my seven-hour break ev­ery night.”

With road­works oc­cur­ring everywhere in Mel­bourne, Todd says it doesn’t mat­ter if he ar­rives in the mid­dle of the night or the next day when the traf­fic can be a prob­lem.


The Volvo Todd drives is an FM13 model with a 450hp Euro 5 en­gine and a Volvo I-shift 12-speed auto gear­box.

“I drove a truck around Mel­bourne with the gear stick the other day, while mine was be­ing re­paired,” he smiles.

“I thought it was go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing get­ting back into the gear­stick thing again but it was no wor­ries.

“It was just like rid­ing a bike. You just keep chang­ing gears like you have done it ev­ery day of your life.”

How­ever, he ad­mits that he’s be­come used to the auto. “I don’t mind it,” he adds.

While Todd says the Volvo is lack­ing a bit as far as grunt is con­cerned, the ma­jor­ity of his loads out

of Mel­bourne are around the 12-tonne mark.

“It’s fully loaded both ways. Half the time com­ing down, I would be 42-and-a-half-tonne and it’s not un­til you are right up on your weight that you no­tice it a lit­tle bit.”

The Presna fleet is made up of 10 trucks, pre­dom­i­nantly Ken­worths, in ad­di­tion to three iden­ti­cal Volvos.

“I’m quite happy to be driv­ing the Volvo; do­ing what I am do­ing. The Volvo is three years-old now, but ba­si­cally as far as the job goes, they are not too bad.

“Ex­cept for a few teething prob­lems, it has been fairly trou­ble free. It’s a nice com­fort­able lit­tle truck.”

Todd points out that he only sleeps in the rig ev­ery sec­ond night.

“There is not a huge amount of room in them,” he says. “If you were away from home all week,

you would def­i­nitely lack a bit of room.”

Gen­er­ally Todd pulls up at Avenel, just north of Mel­bourne on his way home and picks up a cou­ple of roast beef salad rolls, has a 15-minute break and then con­tin­ues on to Young.

Todd has mainly lived in the vicin­ity of Young and went to school in Coota­mundra, Young and War­ren.

His fa­ther Paul Ship­ton bought a truck when Todd was 20.

“I just got the bug and from there, away I went. I kicked off with dad and then went down to the po­lice sta­tion in War­ren, com­pleted the pa­per­work and the of­fi­cer said they wouldn’t worry about the test.

“He had seen me driv­ing around town,” Todd re­calls. “They were the good old days.”


Paul’s first truck was a 3070 ACCO with a 903 Cum­mins and nine-speed ’box. He worked lo­cally do­ing the har­vests and cart­ing cot­ton out of War­ren to Cargill Aus­tralia’s plant in Narrabri.

“It wasn’t too bad. We kept the ACCO run­ning 24 hours a day and changed over day and night shift,” Todd ex­plains.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there aren’t many 3070 ACCOs around these days; even the farm­ers have passed them on.”

Todd then drove for J&P Mol­loy in Young be­fore buy­ing an In­ter­na­tional T-line 2670 and be­com­ing an owner-driver for 10 years.

“That was a very good truck; it was built heavy-duty with 44,000lb diffs, dou­ble chas­sis rails and heavy-duty gear­box. I ended up sell­ing it to dad when I bought a 3600 S-Line.”

Todd op­er­ated the S-Line for six years but with the GST loom­ing, he de­cided to give the owner-driver game away.

“I had a break from trucks al­to­gether for a while, be­fore get­ting back on the road as driver,” Todd smiles.

“I en­joy the job but if some­one handed me a heap of money to­mor­row, I could pos­si­bly leave and not miss it,” Todd says. “But I’m still happy do­ing it.”

Todd Ship­ton is happy be­ing a driver af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing life as a truck owner

Presna Trans­port Ser­vices has cap­i­tal city de­pots in four states, al­though its head of­fice is in Young, NSW

The 2013 Volvo FM13 makes easy work of the trip be­tween Young and Mel­bourne

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