Truckie Profiles

Road train trip lures former mechanic into the driver’s seat

Originally a diesel mechanic, 34-year-old MC driver Andy Kent was lured into the truck cabin and hasn’t looked back since.

Based in Townsville, Kent spent nine years honing his trade before eventually switching over to driving full time almost five years ago.

“I liked working on the trucks but every now and then I would get an opportunity to jump in the truck and do a run with some trailers at the back. I always thought that was pretty cool and wanted to get into it. The driving side just grew on me as time went on,” Kent explained.

However it was one particular run with a road train from the port that persuaded him to make the switch. “From there I guess I got the bug for it and knew I had to give it a go,” he said.

Kent has been working with Nortrans for about four and a half years now, though he’s held his MC for close to a decade.

When he first joined the company, he started out with the side loaders, carting containers out of the port. This then progressed to B-double container work throughout Queensland, before a contract moving concrete pipes saw him progress to road trains.

These days, from behind the wheel of a 2010 Western Star 4800, his main run is pulling AB triples and triple road trains filled with cylinders from Townsville to Mount Isa and then onto Birdsville, and back again. Along the way there are also regular stops at Hughenden, Richmond, Julia Creek and Cloncurry.

“I’ve been in that truck from the start. It’s great, real good. The whole time I’ve been in it, I’ve never had a breakdown,” said Kent.

“I find driving really enjoyable and every time you do a delivery, there’s all the people you meet along the way too.”

Though he’s had a great run with the current truck, Kent will soon be given the keys to a brand-spanking new truck, a Kenworth T909, which is due to arrive in August.

On his travels, Kent says his favourite places to stop are the Torrens Creek Hotel, where he can’t go past the steak, chips and salad, and the Puma Roadhouse at Julia Creek, with savoury mince on toast being his go-to meal. “Their facilities are good, food is excellent and the staff are friendly and welcoming.”

He rates the roads from Hughenden to Cloncurry as the roughest he gets along. “It’s pretty much all bitumen to Birdsville. But from Hughenden to Cloncurry the roads are real rough. It’s all on black soil so it’s moving all the time and real bumpy. And then across from Mt Isa to Birdsville, it’s all single lane roads only wide enough for the one truck to be on.”

Though other motorists can sometimes be a challenge when steering such a big rig, Kent has learnt not to let it phase him too much. “You can’t get worked up or angry with silly drivers on the road. Over time, I’ve learned to be patient and work around those shit times.”

Kent has also set up a Facebook page called ‘Andy’s truck #195’ where he shares photos and videos of his adventures on the road to offer an insight into the sort of work that goes into what our nation’s truck drivers do.

‘Truckin’ in the Outback’ is proudly supported by Loadshift, Australia’s largest freight marketplace for individuals and businesses seeking to buy and sell road transport services.

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