Working for SEQ Transport, based in Yatala, Queensland, Mark and Deb Nelson (aka Team DAMN), travel in excess of 8500 kilometres a week from Brisbane to Perth, and back again. From behind the wheel of a 700hp XXL Volvo, it takes them an average of 53 hours each way.
They both traded their desk jobs for the open road and say they’re the new kids on the block compared to a lot of other teams out there, having only been doing this run for about 15 months. In that time, they’ve already travelled over half a million kilometres.
“Owner of SEQ Transport, Darren Ryan, and his team have really looked after us. It’s without a doubt one of the best companies we have worked for. Clark, who is operations manager, works tirelessly to make sure our runs are as smooth as possible, and workshop manager Shane Farley ensures our truck is well maintained and performing its best every week,” said Mark.
The childhood sweethearts have known each other since they were just 16 years old. Though they drifted apart, they were reunited many years later.
Having worked in the transport industry in New Zealand for 30 years, Deb came to Australia in 2017 to be with Mark.
They were married on Christmas Day in 2018, ready to embark on their life together once again.
“I wanted to get married on Christmas Day so I wouldn’t forget our anniversary,” joked Mark, who had spent about 30 years working in the motor industry in New Zealand before moving across the ditch in 2007. After a few years, he switched over to trucking.
Then Deb suggested they look for two-up work. Though she had worked in the industry for decades, the only problem was that she didn’t actually have a truck licence.
Through sheer determination and hours upon hours of training, Deb went from her car licence to an MC very quickly. Starting out in a rigid, she worked her way up to triple road trains within about 12 months.
‘Team DAMN’ was ready to hit the road and the couple have never looked back. “Wish we had done this earlier,” Mark said.
“What a way to see the country and meet the most amazing people, all the way from other drivers to management and staff at the roadhouses.”
Along with his love of trucks, Mark also has a passion for photography. He posts many of his shots on his Mark Nelson Photography Facebook page, including some of the amazing Australian landscapes he gets to see on his travels. He has also had a number of his photos published in Big Rigs’ Reader Rigs pages too.
“It’s such a buzz opening the paper and seeing my pics there. My inspiration comes from the likes of Aitken Automotive Photography and The Drone Way. I just love their work,” added Mark.
Deb explained, “We change drivers a bit sooner than most others do as it not only gives Mark a chance at taking some snaps of this awesome country but more importantly assists in our fatigue management which is so crucial when driving these distances.
“We have so much fun on the road,” she said. “Mark has this thing where he scares the crap out of me and videos it and publishes it all over social media. He reckons I’ve got a mouth on me like a drunken sailor.”
As for their truck, they say the Volvo has all the creature comforts you need. “The Volvo makes our trip a little more comfortable especially on some of the challenging roads we travel,” Mark said.
His advice for anyone looking to get into the industry is, “Just do it, but do it properly. Don’t try and run before you can walk. Take your time, learn the ropes and it will be a much more enjoyable and safer experience.”
‘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.