Working in some of the more remote parts of Australia, in the Northern Territory, is a genuine love for Alice Springs based truckie Steven ‘Slim’ Elmore.
The 54-year-old has extensive experience travelling over many rough roads and shared some of those stories with Big Rigs.
“I am currently working for Remote Concrete out of Tennant Creek and hauling pre-mix to Humbird River in a Kenworth T904 Tri-Drive. But I have been a truck driver all around Australia,” he said.
Previously Elmore carted cattle in South Australia for many years around the Port Augusta area.
“I did a lot of cattle work along the Birdsville Track back to Adelaide where they would be slaughtered before ending up as meat packs either in Melbourne, other places and even China. These were often big bulls transported by triple road trains with six deck trailers each holding 20,” he said.
I asked Elmore what’s the worst road he has travelled on and it didn’t take him long to reply. The answer wasn’t surprising.
“Without a doubt it would be the Tanami Track and I have been on it more times than I can remember. But I have never broken down on it because the companies I was employed by keep good gear which was well maintained,” he said.
As for rest areas, Elmore reckons there are enough in the NT these days.
“There didn’t used to be but now new ones are popping up along the Tanami, and Stuart and Barkly Highways which is good for truckies. A really top one is at Dingo Hill near Dunmarra,” he said.
Born at Horsham in Victoria, Elmore is from a trucking family and his dad Jeffrey, who passed away in 2012, was also a driver.
“Dad taught me to drive my first truck which was a Toyota Dyna five speed,” he said.
His brother Lindsay Elmore is a truckie based in far north Queensland.
“Dad got a job at Bougainville Island off PNG back in the early seventies and we all got malaria. He stayed there for some time whilst mum, Lindsay and myself had to come to Townsville which was the closest place for treatment,” he said.
It was 35 years ago when Elmore arrived at Alice Springs and it has been the best decision of his life.
“This is where I met my wife Debbie and we have two sons. Gregory is aged 29 and is a miner and Andrew is 25 and is a boilermaker at Wagga,” he said.
It was in the NT where Elmore picked up the nickname ‘Slim’ which has stuck like glue.
“I was working as a ringer on a station and we had a party and they played Slim Dusty songs. We all had a few drinks and a bloke told me the next day my nickname was Slim,” he said.
A couple of NT companies Elmore liked working for were G&S Transport and Tanami Transport.
As for camaraderie amongst truckies along the highways and byways, especially after breakdowns, Elmore reckons it’s long gone.
“In the eighties if you had a flat tyre many would stop and help but these days they zip past you unless you are yelling out on the side of the road. It is only the old school truckies who will offer help,” he said.
Considering the vast distances he has travelled Elmore is well qualified to comment on his favourite roadhouses.
“They would be Stuart Wells south of Alice Springs and Cadney Homestead Roadhouse in SA. Both are family run and they serve up good meals, have friendly people and clean facilities. I enjoy scrambled eggs and sausages for breakfast,” he said.
However Elmore never goes hungry when fatigue laws force him to stay overnight away from a roadhouse.
“I have a gas burner and am just preparing to have some stew heated up on it now when you called. I might even have a few cold soft drinks,” he said.
The subject of how truckies generally get on with caravan drivers is often a hot topic in the road transport industry, which results in truck drivers criticising the van people for dangerous habits and taking up too much space at rest areas.
However Elmore is much more tolerant and even managed some praise for these grey nomads.
“I often speak to van drivers on the UHF radio and it is amazing how many of them are retired truck drivers. They enjoy pulling up and having a yarn about their transport days. And I often think I’ll end up with a van one day,” he said.
On the very important subject of how Covid-19 has affected truckies, Elmore says it was going to soon – big time.
“I haven’t had my jabs yet but I am not anti vaccination. It will affect us up here as we have to have our first jab in November and our second by Christmas or face a heavy fine,” he said.
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