Truckie Profiles

The freedom of the outback

At just 25 years of age, outback truckie Boe Vella is already making a name for himself in the trucking world, dividing his time between working for Fred NT and running his own small transport business.

Now based in Howard Springs, he grew up in a remote outback community about 150km from Darwin.

“My second home is Ramingining – that’s where I am now, it’s about 600km out of Darwin. I bring a lot of building and concrete products out that way,” Vella said.

He was shown the ropes by his father, who taught him how to drive a truck when he was 10. “Dad had trucks since I was a baby, so I’ve always been around them. I like the big trucks, the sound of them, the life of the bush. I also love a good mission and it’s a bit of a mission doing outback trucking,” he added.

Vella is on the dirt about 70 per cent of the time. “All my usual routes are remote NT communities. I could be doing 1200km of dirt in a week,” he said. “I love going remote – the creek crossings, there’s always a lot of challenges, you don’t know what’s around the corner. And it’s a good-looking country-side too.”

Vella loves going remote – and enjoys the challenge of a creek crossing too.

He drives a 1999 Western Star 4900 for Fred NT, which specialises in plumbing infrastructure; and also has his own 1993 International Transtar as well as some other smaller trucks for his own business. “I’ve had the International for two years. There’s a 525hp Cummins N14 in that one. It probably needs a restore in the next couple of years, but I need to make some more money first,” he joked.

“I do a lot of transporting to remote communities. I have a concrete batching business too, so cart my own concrete products. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. It keeps me busy.

“I love going remote and being away from society. There’s no phone reception. Out there, you can just be you.”

The Blythe River Crossing, Cahill’s Crossing (watch out for the crocs) and the Goat Track are notoriously difficult – and Vella wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Blythe River has a big jump-up coming out of the river, and the river flows about 1m deep all year round. I got stuck there once and it took about six hours to get out of it. I cross Blythe River very regularly – at least every 2-3 weeks. Next year I’ll be crossing it about three times a week.

“Cahill Crossing is another tidal river. It comes up very easily with storms. I’ve had it come up on me before, so I’ve had to go all the way around to get back to Ramingining. I had a triple with a boat on one of the trailers and the boat actually caught fire,” he recalled.

“The most challenging part of the job would be trying to get stuff done before the wet season. You know you can get in with the truck but it’s a two-day journey to get there. If the rivers come up, it can cause big delays in coming back.”

Vella caught the eye of Outback Truckers producers too and appeared on three episodes in Season 9.

“Everyone was stirring me up about going on the show, so I applied and got on,” he said. “They did one big trip with me for two weeks, then did one more.”

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