“We were both born into it – we tried to do other things but here we both are!”
It would appear to be a simple case of diesel running in the veins of brother and sister team Haley and Joel Leech who make up part of the Fouremile Trucking operation which is based at Newstead in central Victoria.
The siblings made up part of the of the large turnout of trucks at the annual Castlemaine Truck show, which was held late in 2021, with Haley bringing along the company’s Peterbilt 379 and Joel behind the wheel of a 1998 Western Star.
With its classic American styling, the big Peterbilt stood out from the rest of the convoy as the trucks made their way to the Campbells Creek Oval from the Castlemaine town centre, with Joel giving his sister the keys to the 379 for the weekend.
“I usually drive it during the week and she’s normally in our 1994 Ford Louisville so she’s working her way up to driving it more,” Joel said with a smile.
The family purchased the 2006 model Peterbilt out of Queensland earlier in 2021 and it was soon put to work alongside the two other Peterbilts in the Fouremile operation.
“We weren’t really looking for another one, but this came up, and we were in the right place at the right time, and the service history was also a factor as it was one of the last Peterbilts to roll out into Australia with a Cat motor,” he said.
Haley continued: “It’s done 1.95 million kilometres, up in Queensland I believe it was pulling road train fridge vans.
“We haven’t done much to it since then. It had a bullbar, but we took it off and put the bumper on it to give us a bit more room to play with the overall length.
Some plans are afoot to change the paint and do a few more bits and pieces to keep the Peterbilt looking sharp.
“It’s a part of the fleet so they all get a bit of love. We put a bit of time and money onto our trucks,” said Joel.
And the Fouremile operation could be considered diverse, with a number of brands represented across the business which was started in the late 1990s by Haley and Joel’s father Malcolm.
“It depends on how you count them. How many are on the road and how many are sitting in the shed in bits,” said Haley with a smile.
“We have the three Peterbilts, two Western Stars, three Fords, a Freightliner Century Class and an International S-Line along with a couple of rigids.”
As is the case with the Peterbilt and Western Star on show in Castlemaine, Caterpillar is the preferred choice of diesel power for the fleet.
“You’d never find a Cummins our yard. Cats are easy to work on, we love them, and they never fail. The C-15 is just an awesome motor, and the Western Star has a 3406B,” continued Joel.
Like the range of trucks in the fleet, the freight carried is diverse as are the locations trucks are sent to, with both Haley and Joel having covered a fair area of Australia over their respective time behind the wheel.
“We cart a lot of stuff locally, normally do building materials and things like structural steel out of Bendigo, up through New South Wales up into Queensland with a single trailer and cart steel out of Newcastle back south which involves a lot of tarp work,” said Joel.
“We have done a variety of stuff over the years such as containers and machinery haulage, we used to cart the Bushmaster trucks out of Thales in Bendigo, so we have been part of some pretty cool stuff.
“H [Haley] is pretty good. She swaps between the semis and the rigids, as we do a lot of ‘hot shot’ stuff also, say a single pallet to a mine site and so forth.”
Having been to Karratha driving two-up earlier in 2021, Haley had just returned from a solo trip to Townsville prior to the show.
Given that Castlemaine is literally just down the road from the Fouremile depot in Newstead the siblings were keen to both run in the convoy from Castlemaine and the following show day which was back in full swing after a couple of lean years due to Covid.
“We try and get to the show when it comes around. We see all our mates getting their trucks ready for it so off we go,” Joel said.
For Haley it’s also about getting a positive image of truck drivers across which she thinks has been enhanced due to the covid situation, especially to younger members of the community.
“We had a young fella teed up today to come and look at the truck and he was in the passenger seat for the convoy, it helps change the way truck drivers are stereotyped.
“It’s always good to see the kids smile, that makes it all worthwhile.”