— 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

Owner Driver - - In This Issue -

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.”

WELL AP­POINTED

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.”

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