Working for NIX Freight, Townsville-based outback truckie Anthony Griggs, 38, runs triple road trains between Townsville and Darwin – and all the cattle stations in between.
He got his truck licence at 22 and his MC licence at 23, but had the trucking bug long before that.
His late grandfather used to cart sugar cane from the paddocks to the railway line, and Griggs would often ride with him as a kid. “I was driving my grandfather’s truck before I was even a teenager, probably by the age of 12, around the cane paddocks,” he said.
Griggs joined NIX Freight in June this year and drives a 2007 Western Star 4900, carting stock supplements and general freight to cattle stations throughout the Northern Territory, usually with a triple road train. “It’s an absolutely beautiful truck to drive. It’s just very well built and they’re very well suited to the work – they aren’t overly plastic, so can handle that sort of work. At least 30 per cent of my work is on the dirt.
He rates Western Creek Road and Dry River Road as some of the toughest he gets along. “And the Tablelands Highway, for a bitumen road is quite ridiculous. But you just drive to the conditions and take it steady where you need to.”
The challenges of the job are actually one of the things Griggs says he enjoys most. “No two days or two runs are the same. You might go to three different stations in a trip or just one, and on the runs home, you might have a load all the way or several stops.
“I love stopping at the stations. You get to meet some really genuine people and you do develop friendships. You help them out, they help you out, it’s the old school outback way. I spent my early days on a cattle station in the Burdekin before becoming a truckie. I’ve always enjoyed being out in the bush.”
Tarping and untarping is one aspect that can be quite physically challenging, especially in extreme heat. “It’s a very physical and demanding task, you have to manage your own heat and workload. But a smart person works smarter, you don’t just keep going until you fall over. Load placement is the other important one, working your weights out to make sure you’re legal.”
With Covid restrictions, Griggs says the biggest issue he’s had is the ever-changing rules. “You could be in the middle of nowhere when the rules change, so you get to the border not knowing, then get turned away at the border. They’ll make you drive nearly 500km back to get a test done.
“If I’m busy working and then have to have a test done, I have to try and stop somewhere with a road train, which some days is impossible. There’s just not enough warning before rule changes come in.
“The old school information highway is slowly but surely dwindling away which is sad. Too many in it for the money, not the passion. For me, I’ve always loved driving trucks and aim to continue doing it until I retire.”
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