Now based in Kalgoorlie, Shane Ashton got the trucking bug early, inspired by his father Wayne Ashton, who is also a truckie.
Shane, now 48, learnt to drive in his dad’s 1979 White Road Commander when he was 14 years old – and the father and son duo would travel the highways, getting up to all sorts of mischief.
“Growing up, my father always took me in the truck on the school holidays and I developed a passion for these things. I left school in Year 9 and started helping him with work, he was doing interstate driving at the time,” explained Shane.
“He used to make me sit on a pillow and wear his hat and sunglasses when I was driving during the day. There was one time going down the hill where I was going too quick and we got stopped by the police. Dad was sleeping in the back. I got into a lot of trouble that day.
“We used to get up to a lot of shenanigans. Back then, because I was so young and doing that sort of thing with Dad, it was so much fun for me. I thought I was pretty cool.”
Now 70 years old, Wayne was still driving road trains out of Margaret River until a couple of months ago, however he’s been side-lined as he battles cancer and focuses on his treatment and recovery.
Originally from Gawler, SA, Shane was 14 when he relocated to Perth to live with his Dad. “And I’ve lived in the west ever since,” he added.
Shane moved to Kalgoorlie in January last year to start work with his current employer Rowlspec, which is owned by a truck enthusiast with a passion for Macks. “They have three V8 Macks and we do everything from heavy haulage through to heavy recovery,” Shane said.
When he first joined the business, Shane was driving a 1988 Mack Valueliner, however he more recently moved into a 1998 Mack Titan.
“The Northern Goldfields is the main area I go to. We carry a lot of mining equipment around, as well as recovering a lot of broken down trucks on the Nullarbor. I normally tow a single float or a super-tilt trailer. We’ve been to Port Hedland, Karratha, the Pilbara – we pretty much go anywhere,” Shane said.
Though he rates the roads through the Nullarbor very highly, he says there are some others that are quite challenging – such as Kurnalpi-Pinjin Road, which connects Kalgoorlie-Boulder to the Tropicana Gold Mine. “You have a 280 kilometre stretch that is really good and well maintained, but it’s the first stretch of the shire road that’s the worst bit – it’s corrugated as hell!
“Some days I’ve been out there in first gear, doing about 5km/h. When you’ve got a 70 tonne machine on the back, you need to look after that as well as the truck.”
Though the hours are long (often 12-14 hour days), Shane says he enjoys the solitude in the cabin and the mateship out on the road. “I think the best part of the job is that you’re working on your own all day and don’t have to answer to anyone. We get to meet a lot of good people on the road too and some of them have become my closest mates. There’s some who I’ve met just while changing a tyre. Most of the mates I socialise with these days are old veterans in trucking.”
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