Growing up, Jess Moyse aspired to be a journalist. Originally from Brisbane, she had pictured herself being part of the regular 9 to 5 daily office grind – yet her reality is anything but.
“It’s funny the unexpected places life takes you, because here I am living and working in the outback, when, from a very young age, living a normal city childhood, I pictured my adult self working as a hard-hitting news reporter,” she said.
Moyse’s childhood dream began to shift during high school when she discovered the school farm and her love of animals.
After graduating from high school, Moyse, now 25, decided to go to an agricultural training college in Longreach. “It was kind of a sabbatical. I got the grasp of and really enjoyed doing stock yard handling and being in the bush. I thought I would do that for a few years and then go back home, but that didn’t happen.”
She ended up moving to western Queensland to work on a cattle station and it was there that she got her first taste of trucking. “I decided to try my hand at an outback station doing jillaroo work. I moved to a small town around 250 kilometres south-west of Longreach – in the middle of nowhere.
“The first year was a struggle and I actually went back home, but then realised I made a huge mistake and returned. I spent the next five years there at the cattle station before moving to the Northern Territory.”
Moyse said the work was hard, dirty and tough, but it was also a dream come true. She loved every minute and was enamoured at the sight of every road train that came into the station. “When I saw my first road train, I thought it was really cool and wanted to try my hand at it. Every time I saw one, I’d wish it was me behind the wheel,” she said.
As luck would have it, one day she got her chance, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
“My boss told me one afternoon that he needed me to drive one of the cattle trucks down to the loading ramp because they were a driver short. There were a million reasons why I couldn’t jump in the driver’s seat but he made me get in and have a go. I hadn’t driven a truck before but it was then and there that I decided this is what I wanted to do,” said Moyse.
“It was very eye-opening. Being around trucks in the city, I’d wonder why they weren’t going any faster or why they weren’t getting out of the way. When I hopped in the driver’s seat and saw all of the gears, I realised there was so much more to driving a truck than what I had thought.”
Two and a half years ago, Moyse moved to Alice Springs in search of a job as a truck driver. “Once settled, I began looking for truck work and six months later, family-owned trucking company Stanes Transport put me on as a jack-of-all-trades doing yard work, washing trucks, helping out in the workshop and doing some driving as well,” she said.
Stanes has a fleet of seven prime movers and four rigids, with six long distance drivers and five doing the local runs – Moyse being the only female truckie. She loves the work, which is so different each day, and says there’s never a dull moment.
These days, she’s usually behind the wheel of a gutsy 2006 Mack Titan towing a triple road train or a B-double, but on occasion she also takes out one of the rigids for local work.
When Moyse joined Stanes in late 2019, she already had her HR licence but had to wait a few more months before she was eligible to try for her MC. “My new bosses in the Territory paid to put me through to my MC licence in Alice Springs – that was in February 2020,” she said.
Stanes Transport delivers refrigerated goods and containers to outback communities within Alice Springs and over the border to WA.
“My regular runs are from Alice Springs to Kiwirrkurra, around 190 kilometres over the WA border, which is about a three-day trip and around 800 kilometres each way. I also do the run to Newmont Mines, which is 600 kilometres from Alice Springs, but that’s a pretty long one because the roads are pretty buggered. Much of the company’s work is general freight and food deliveries to the community stores at Indigenous communities dotted around the Alice.
“About 70 per cent of the work is off bitumen. It was very nerve-racking at first. I’d ask my boss if he was sure he wanted to send me out there to some of these remote places, but it’s been good. I do a little of the rigid stuff, but not as often now, I prefer to do the longer runs to build up my experience further.
“The biggest challenge for me is that I’m still gaining the mechanical experience. I’ve picked up so much knowledge on the mechanical side since I started. My boss Mark Stanes and all the boys I work with are great at explaining what to do and how to get out of a pickle. He’ll get in the truck too if he needs to.
“Stanes is so good to work for too, I’d be mad to leave. They pretty much do everything they can to make sure you’re all good. It’s such a good feeling because everyone in our team works well together, it’s such a well working machine and a good working atmosphere.”
So, what is it she loves most about being on the road?
“It’s the freedom. Even though there are places to be and people to see, there’s still that sense of freedom. It’s being able to be in the middle of nowhere and no-one is around you. It’s all been one hell of a ride.”