Af­ter years in a city­bound man­age­rial job, Justin Dono­van has found his niche driv­ing a near-new Ken­worth T409 up and down the east coast. Peter Sch­lenk writes

Owner Driver - - Contents #305 -

Justin Dono­van swaps the suit and tie for a Ken­worth T409 along the east coast

“I was in a suit and tie for 15 years.”

JUSTIN DONO­VAN pulled up at the BP Maru­lan South­bound in a Ken­worth T409 SAR, one of two Berle Trans­port trucks when Owner//

Driver caught up with him.

Along­side was an­other Berle truck, a K200 with Rob­bie An­der­son be­hind the wheel.

The SAR is one of two con­ven­tional trucks in Berle’s seven-truck fleet, with the ma­jor­ity of the work mov­ing ice-cream up and down the east coast of Aus­tralia and across to Ade­laide.

“This is only the sec­ond bon­neted truck that Dar­ren Berle has bought,” Justin ex­plains. “The rest are all cab-over Ken­worths.”

Justin says Berle Trans­port has three big-cab K200 Aero­dynes, a K104B and an­other K104.

“I think length­wise he likes the 12-pal­let A-trailers. Mine is only a 10-pal­let be­cause of the 50-inch bunk. It’s not too bad be­cause we get our weight on quite eas­ily with ice cream,” he says.

The SAR’s Cum­mins is set at 575hp and that’s just fine ac­cord­ing to Justin. “I’m reg­u­larly pulling the dou­bles up at 61 to 62 tonne so it’s good to have that bit ex­tra on those big hills up and down the Hume.”

As well as be­ing a work­horse, the T409 SAR be­came a tem­po­rary show truck at last year’s Ken­worth Klas­sic at the Hawkes­bury Show­grounds out­side Syd­ney.

“It was a fan­tas­tic week­end,” Justin smiles. “Berle’s had three trucks there; mine, a K104 and a K100E.

“It was a great day and the weather turned out to be beau­ti­ful so it ac­tu­ally worked re­ally well and it got the kids out to have a look. It was my first time to a Ken­worth Klas­sic and my wife and the kids had a ball!”

Justin has been with In­gle­burn, Syd­ney-based Berle Trans­port for six years. Prior to the SAR, he drove an Aero­dyne with an au­to­matic gear­box. “I didn’t mind the auto but once I got the man­ual stick and the bon­neted truck, that was it.

“It has the smart steer­ing wheel, mod­ern dash, ev­ery­thing is beau­ti­ful,” Justin smiles. “They have come so far.”

The big bunk with its two fridges and a TV in­side is Justin’s home for six out of seven nights each week.

It’s an ideal setup, es­pe­cially as one of his reg­u­lar runs is from Syd­ney to Bris­bane, then onto Mackay, Rock­hamp­ton, Townsville and Cairns, making drops on the way up and bring­ing ba­nanas back.

“It’s a nice run up there,” Justin says. “The roads are a bit rougher but it’s good to get away and the weather is beau­ti­ful. Plus you don’t have the hus­tle and bus­tle of Syd­ney or Mel­bourne.”

It’s a leisurely drive as well, with a drop every eight or so hours. Once he ar­rives at his des­ti­na­tion he goes to bed and un­loads in the morn­ing, which means he gets a good 10 to 12 hours off every night.

Fa­ther and son

An­other big ad­van­tage for the 50-inch cab is its dou­ble bunks, which is handy when Justin’s 13-year-old son Jett trav­els with him dur­ing school hol­i­days. It’s no is­sue for Berle Trans­port, which is a fam­i­ly­ori­ented com­pany.

“He en­joys com­ing with me; it’s our fa­ther-son time,” Justin smiles. “It’s the best part of the job, tak­ing the young lad with me.”

“Jett has his hard drive in the bunk with all the kid’s movies. It’s such a good home for both of us and we have a good laugh to­gether.”

While Justin loves driv­ing trucks, es­pe­cially in his cur­rent role job with Berle, his early years were spent in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent in­dus­try.

“I was in a suit and tie for 15 years, man­ag­ing car parks in the city. Swap­ping that for driv­ing trucks was a big dif­fer­ence, but I love my own com­pany and my wife San­dra loves her own space. We get on well and it suits us both.”

Justin started with TNT, then Aus­tralian Overnight Truck­ing and on to Pace Farm Eggs be­fore join­ing Berle Trans­port.

At first he drove rigids do­ing local de­liv­er­ies, but as the op­por­tu­ni­ties be­came avail­able he moved up the lad­der.

“The boss I worked for with the lit­tle trucks had some semi-trailers so I just worked my way up.”

Justin’s first in­ter­state truck was a T401 Ken­worth, which was a big step­ping stone.

“I learnt and then pro­gressed from there. I went into a cab-over and now I’m back into an SAR.

“I love bon­nets, it’s a smoother ride, they drive so well and have a beau­ti­ful bunk.”

Justin even en­joys run­ning the Hume, with its dual lanes all the way. “It’s quite peace­ful, ac­tu­ally. You just sit there, put the cruise on, lis­ten to mu­sic and sing along.

“I get paid to do what I love; that’s the best part. I have the best gear and work in a well-run com­pany that ap­pre­ci­ates what you do.”

Justin Dono­van swapped a suit-and-tie job to be­come a truck driver

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