Meet three generations of inspiring Tassie truckies

It was a sunny morning and promised a beautiful day after a cold frosty (-4) Deloraine night when Amber Brosnan arrived in town, driving her Ryan’s Transport’s 2012 Freightliner CST 112 prime mover with a Detroit Diesel DD13 12.8L inline-six and an 18 Speed transmission.

We were happy to see her arrive with her grandmother, the attractive and sprightly Maureen Brosnan, in the passenger seat, and as previously arranged, her mother Sarah arrived simultaneously by car from Latrobe, to tell us something about their combined experiences on the road.

We first met Amber a couple of months ago when she was doing her first job out on the road with a brand-new licence in a Dave Richard’s Constellation.

At that time she told us she was hoping to continue the family tradition on the road, with her mother, Sarah Brosnan from Latrobe, a well-known and highly respected full-time milk tanker driver in northern Tasmania, who had also driven for Matt Ryan off and on for several years.

But what she neglected to tell us at the time, was that her grandmother, Maureen Brosnan, was also a professional truck driver, well known for her adventures carting cattle around New South Wales a few years back.

So, it was a total buzz to catch up with these three remarkable women all together and have a chat with them about their combined time and experiences on the road.

Sarah told us she had begun her working career up in Queensland making roof trusses and working with cattle out in Central Queensland before she started out driving a small concrete truck, where she got her licence, and then began driving agitator trucks up there for several years, prior to moving down to Tasmania and initially doing all manner of odds and ends.

“The kids were young when I started driving, and I was lucky as I was able to take them with me in the truck,” she told us.

“Latterly, I have been driving milk tankers across the north of Tasmania, and that is a good regular run, though full of variety and interest as you really get to know the highways and by-ways, and the farmers, as well as where the pick-ups are.

“I usually drive a Volvo and have no regrets at all in having taken up driving for a profession. There have been lots of changes in the industry, and attitudes, but personally speaking I have never found being a woman a problem at all, and have always been respected, and judged mostly on my work which is what matters. 

“So, Amber really got her taste for trucks, and driving them, way back then.”

Amber interjected: “I well remember how proud I would be when Mum dropped in to school to pick me up after classes driving a truck, I mean how cool was that?”

Very proud of her mother’s achievements, Amber told us that Sarah was also given awards from the ATA in 2019 for Tasmania’s Professional Driver of the year, and made the final three in the National awards for Professional Driver of the Year for 2020.

So certainly, Amber has every good reason to be justly proud of Sarah’s accomplishments.

Maureen then continued: “I have done quite a few things along the way, besides driving cattle trucks, including becoming a teacher, and driving the Bedford school bus in Toowoomba where I sadly became widowed.

Sarah’s sister Emma in Maureen’s Bedford school bus.

“There was also a difficult divorce that left me with a 14-month-old son, Shaun, and I really didn’t want to leave him home alone.
“I looked at possible work alternatives, including particularly those options that pleased me and were practical, and then I went out and got a truck licence and began driving, and that’s where my son grew up, in the truck with me.”

“With Dad’s help I managed to get a bank loan and paid my husband out, and purchased a 300-acre cattle property at Kempsey in New South Wales. My next venture saw me buying and selling cattle, in fact I became the first woman cattle buyer in Kempsey and Taree for Woolworths in Sydney.

“So, there I was buying cattle and driving between Sydney and Kempsey and Taree and I reckoned I was then earning five-times the amount that being a teacher had paid, plus I was out in the open air and doing what I loved, driving.”

Maureen has many stories to share but one that comes quickly to mind was a trip from Sydney up to Taree via Bulahdelah in her old International when a police officer pulled her over.

“‘You haven’t, have you?’ he asked through the window. ‘Haven’t what?’ I replied. ‘A licence for this’, he said.

“He seemed a bit taken aback when I produced it, but he did have the decency to apologise. 

“I used to also bring cattle down from all over, including as far out as Walgett, to the sale yards at Homebush, on a lot of pretty rough and unsealed roads outback, and even back then the traffic in Sydney was a bit challenging.

“Then I moved down to Tasmania – no regrets there! – and bought a 232-acre cattle and horse property here at Deloraine which I loved, but owing to various complications, I sold that and moved on. After a short break I bought another 80-acre property at South Riana, adding to it with the 130-acre place next door where we harvested timber, but I finally faced the fact I had to take it easy, and moved into my current place near Ulverstone, looking out over Bass Strait.

“I keep in close touch with Sarah and Amber of course, and still enjoy getting up into a truck with all its memories, but I am really more happy in the passenger seat now days. To sum things up, I really enjoyed my time on the road greatly, and if I had to start out again I would happily do it all again.

Maureen says that there are so many new innovations, regulations and changes in today’s Industry, and in the vehicles themselves, (a lot more comfortable, for a start) that it is all a bit overwhelming at times.

“But I have no fears for my granddaughter, she is a hard worker, and can stand her ground and perform with the best of them, and it would be foolish to underestimate either her strength, or her capabilities. I am very proud of her and proud of her decision.”

Finally, after her first couple of months on the road, Amber seemed as happy, and enthusiastic, as the day she stepped out of Dave Richard’s Constellation at Mood Food on her first trip solo. 

She said she had had great advice, assistance and mentoring from her mother throughout, including some practical experience.

She added that she was glad that she had completed her course with “OnRoad OffRoad, Training”, where she had not only picked up on many valuable skills, but it had also boosted her confidence to finally get out there and chase a career.

She added that she had noticed more girls taking an interest in truck driving of late, and that when they ask her, she gives them all the encouragement she can to simply “just go out there and give it your best.”

We asked how it had felt having her grandmother in the truck with her coming to Deloraine, and she told us: “Well, I was a bit nervous having Nanny there alongside me at first, but happily she never said a word, and I soon relaxed and it all went smoothly.”

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