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
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