— 2013 International
Born and bred in rural South Australia, Dave ‘Stix’ Stocker is content to keep it country behind the wheel of a 2010 Kenworth T908. Peter and Di Schlenk write
DAVE STOCKER, better known as ‘Stix’, was in the queue at an Adelaide truck wash when
Owner//Driver caught up with him recently. Stix was behind the wheel of a Kenworth T908, owned by McMillan & Sons Haulage, which is based in Mallala just north of Adelaide.
“I’m lucky I have a timeslot to have it washed so it worked out well for me today,” Stix smiles.
“Once it’s washed I’ll head around to CMV to drop the truck off to get the batteries looked at and a mate will give me a ride home.”
Stix, who lives in the Barossa Valley, is single and hence enjoys life on the road.
His current run is from Loxton to Adelaide, hauling grain from country silos.
“With the demise of the majority of country railway lines in South Australia, we have the job of getting the grain down to the port,” Stix explains.
“The trucks do a very good job. A dozen rigs can be loaded very quickly and now we can run as road trains.
“Trucks are even more efficient; we do one round trip a day, although with an early start we occasionally get two trips completed.”
The route into Adelaide from the Riverland is now road train rated, so operators are converting their B- doubles to road trains.
“These are Freight master trailers, very user friendly and good to operate,” Stix says.
“All we do is pull a pin and slide the A-trailers tri up under the tipper and connect the dolly. It goes down the road very nicely.
Stix says it’s great to see road train routes throughout the state but he’s quick to point out that the road system is not keeping up with the advances in technology and combinations.
“I travelled on these roads as a kid with dad when he was driving express interstate.
The roads have changed very little since then,” he states.
Stick’s father Wayne drove for Wards Overnighters, piloting their dark blue slimline cab- overs, generally running to Sydney but with the occasional run to Brisbane and the odd changeover. He later worked for United Transport. “My love of trucks started as a little whipper snapper,” Stix recalls.
“I was always in the trucks and with him going around the place.
“It was very different back then and the overnighters were kings of the road.
“I loved going with him, he was always on the road, doing the hard yards.
“He didn’t get much time off but he has his little group that he travelled with.
“He did his own thing and then caught up with them when he wasn’t on the road.”
Stix’s first job was with Trevor Cox from Gawler who had a fleet of trucks running sand and aggregate into batching plants.
That first truck was a little CH Mack and super dog setup.
“Trevor gave me a shot and I haven’t looked back since,” Stix says.
Before joining McMillans, Stix was in a Kenworth T909 with a 5-axle trailer.
“McMillans, it’s a good little place to work at and it’s a great truck; a driver’s truck – nice and comfortable to drive.”
The T908 is one of four trucks in the fleet. There’s another T908, a T909 and a T409.
The trucks are kept busy with grain with the occasional load of fertiliser.
It becomes evident when talking to Stix that he enjoys his job, which he says comes down to driving a good truck and having a good boss.
“It’s a bit of a pain keeping the truck clean now that it’s raining again, but it means there will be a crop to harvest and cart next year.”
Stix has no plans to run interstate and is happy to be home most nights.
The truck is at the depot each Saturday morning for washing and servicing; then it’s time for a few snags and drinks. “It’s all just works out well,” he continues. “There is plenty of work around locally to keep me out of mischief, so while the grain is around this is where you’ll find me.”
Surprisingly, Stix has never hauled grapes out of the Barossa, but during harvest can be found doing paddock to silo, which he says is a nice change.
“It gets a bit testing but you have to keep the farmers happy; you get to have a relationship with these guys,” he says.
“They look after you and you look after them.”
Stix says the Kenworth is ideal for paddock work. The truck has a 50-inch sleeper and is decked out with TV, DVD and fridge-freezer. To top that off, Stix carries his own small cooker.
“You stay with the farmer for a couple of weeks and either they give you a feed or a few bucks to have a feed so it works out well,” he says.
“While the work is there and the money is good I will keep doing it.”
Stix sees a bright future ahead for the transport industry despite the continual changes.
“The regulations, hours and the way we work, it’s all evolving and I really do see it looking good as long as everyone is doing the right thing.
“Unfortunately, although we are providing an essential reliable service, we are stereotyped as a truck driver.
“You do get credit from time to time but generally truck drivers are seen in a negative way.”
With everyone able to take photos and videos and then put it up on social media, Stix is concerned that with the public’s 24-hour obsession for news, you could find yourself posted everywhere for very little reason.
“It has its good and bad points but just as in our workplace, the public arena, you have got to be aware and have your wits about you. You are always being watched,” he says.
Stix, who grew up in the country, has also noticed the change in mateship from the times going with his dad to what it is today.
“What the blokes had back then, they knew each other. They were mates and would help each other out,” he says.
“That’s why I enjoy catching up with the farmers, you get to have that chin wag.”