EAST OF THE GAP

The re­vamped Shell Arat­ula truck stop is a wel­come sight for driv­ers head­ing down Cun­ning­hams Gap, and for those about to tackle it. Greg Bush writes

Owner Driver - - OWNER // DRIVER -

THE SHELL Arat­ula has re­ceived a ma­jor facelift since Owner//Driver fea­tured it as the Oc­to­ber 2009 Truck Stop of the Month. In fact, apart from the view to­wards the Great Di­vid­ing Range, it’s al­most un­recog­nis­able.

Re­vamped and re­launched early last year, the Shell branded fa­cil­ity is a mod­ern truck stop with sep­a­rate diesel pumps for heavy ve­hi­cles, a truck­ies’ room with shower, tele­vi­sion and free WiFi.

Out­side there’s a large area for heavy ve­hi­cle park­ing, enough for 20 B-dou­bles, a ded­i­cated truck re­fu­elling area on the east­ern side with AdBlue avail­able at the pumps, and a weigh­bridge

Coun­try Caul­dron op­er­ates the site which pro­vides hot food and drinks for pass­ing traf­fic, in­clud­ing the ‘big break­fast’.

Site man­ager Rachel Barker, also a Coun­try Caul­dron direc­tor, has been with the new Shell since its re­launch last year. How­ever, the open­ing date of April 1 was post­poned for a cou­ple of weeks due to a large rain event, the af­ter­math of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Deb­bie.

“There were floods within the first few weeks,” Rachel says.

To help with the mas­sive clean-up, Shell li­censee Viva En­ergy do­nated $5000 to the Boonah SES.

Although only around 90km south­west of the Bris­bane CBD, Arat­ula is a pop­u­lar stop for trucks head­ing along the Cun­ning­ham High­way, es­pe­cially those driv­ing to­wards War­wick and Goondi­windi to link up with the New Eng­land and Newell High­ways.

The large mod­ern pub­lic restau­rant area is also at­trac­tive to mo­torists and trav­ellers. Ac­cord­ing to Jes­sica Mar­riner, Shell me­dia man­ager for Viva En­ergy Aus­tralia, the busiest time for trucks is be­tween the hours of 6am and 10am.

“The most pop­u­lar food choice for driv­ers is the chicken parmi­giana, fil­let steak and fried chicken,” Jes­sica adds. “From the healthy op­tions menu it is grilled At­lantic salmon, sal­ads and wraps.” In­side the Shell’s truck­ies’ lounge,

Owner//Driver caught up with Graeme Howie who was en­joy­ing a hot lunch. Graeme, who drives for Bac­chus Marsh-based Tra­ianon Trans­port, was on his way back to Vic­to­ria, via Lith­gow in NSW.

Graeme says the Shell Arat­ula is a reg­u­lar meal stop when­ever his runs take him into Queens­land. Now aged 68, he’s been driv­ing for 40 years, although he re­tired fol­low­ing an ac­ci­dent few years ago.

How­ever, in Novem­ber last year he phoned Peter Tra­ianon look­ing for ca­sual work.

“I haven’t stopped yet,” Graeme says. “I’m from the old school where driv­ers just did what they were paid to do with­out sook­ing.

“Driv­ers of to­day, if they get their hands dirty they whinge and carry on.”

Graeme adds that he stopped own­ing trucks years ago, nowa­days pre­fer­ring to drive for some­one else. As for get­ting his hands dirty, there was lit­tle like­li­hood of that oc­cur­ring at the Shell Arat­ula, the spot­less fa­cil­i­ties a breath of fresh air on the truck stop map.

Site man­ager Rachel Barker

The truck re­fu­elling area on the east side of the truck stop has AdBlue at the pumps

Peter Tra­ianon stops for lunch in the truck­ies’ lounge

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