Careers & Training

Rookie truckie, 49, grabs her chance to learn ropes

Joanne Boland, 49, currently works in a barber shop near Noosa Heads, Queensland and dreamt of driving trucks for the bulk of her life after getting hooked at an early age.

Big Rigs readers may remember our story in a recent edition about Corrina Riley and Kerri Avern’s 3400km trip from Brisbane to Cairns in which Avern gained some much-needed hands-on industry experience.   

Avern’s story gained huge traction via the Women in Trucking Australia Ltd (WiTA) Facebook page, prompting Boland, another eager candidate, to reach out for an opportunity.

“My dad drove trucks and at 19. My sister even did a trip from WA on a triple and the driver let her have a little run,” said Boland. “I thought if she can do it, I can too!”

Despite obtaining her heavy licence 12 months ago, Boland’s enthusiasm to get a break in the industry hasn’t been enough to land her a job. Boland cites the often trod out ‘lack of experience’ excuse as the main roadblock when applying for gigs, but admits that fear of rejection itself can be just as taxing.

“Once you get your licence, you apply for jobs, but you tend to talk yourself out of (applying) because you don’t think you’ll be given a fair crack as a woman. But you have to put yourself out there to step into the unknown,” she said.

Boland was duly assisted with her leap into the unknown when Riley (with the assistance of WiTA CEO Lyndal Denny), invited her on a trip from Gladstone to Brisbane hauling a heavy load of timber in her 2012 Peterbilt 388 – otherwise known as ‘Pete’. Big Rigs spoke to them on route to Gladstone.

“I feel like Pete now has two lovers,” laughs Boland. “But Corinna and Lyndel are like my guardian angels. I just wish other women could experience this – I feel like my chest is about to explode.”

Riley was equally praiseworthy of Boland, saying that there should be plenty of work opportunities for her.

“She’s (Joanne) been absolutely brilliant,” said Riley. “Even my boss said she might get a job working with him”.

There was no dialling in period for Boland on this trip, with Riley insisting she jump into the driver’s seat from the get-go, a challenge that Boland accepted with no hesitation.

“I’ve had a few two four-hour stints, with the first four hours straight. There was absolutely no dictatorship from Corinna or a feeling that I was in training. She more or less said I could do it,” said Boland. 

I really felt like I had done it before though and I suppose asking my dad as a child helped a lot. It’s almost like research. I was quite proud of myself.”

Now that she has plenty of miles under her belt, Boland says she’s prepared to turn her life around in 24 hours if it means getting work.

“I now have an opportunity, but travel is an issue as well. A lot of the jobs are seasonal work so lifestyle is a factor. The happiness factor is also important, so I guess it’s all about rolling with it,” she said.

And what advice would Boland give to other women wanting to take the leap?

“It’s all about courage and not being your own worst enemy,” she said. 

“One day we’ll all be in a rocking chair so it’s all about sucking the nectar out of life.”

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