It was while completing a diesel mechanic training course that Rhiannon Lindley, 33, got her first taste behind the wheel. Two years later, she’s just earnt her MC licence, which was a big personal achievement.
“I had been keen on this for a while so I was pretty proud to get my MC – I’ve had a lot of people who told me I couldn’t do it,” she revealed.
Lindley’s first taste of truck driving happened while she was doing a mechanical work experience placement at Followmont Transport’s Brisbane workshop. She asked if she could drive one of the trucks she was working on – and they happily obliged, giving her the opportunity to hone her skills in an automatic Mack. And it was from then on that the driving bug truly hit.
Lindley didn’t know anyone who had worked in the industry but wanted a career change. “I was working in hospitality and found that the constant interaction with people wasn’t always fun. It got frustrating at times as I felt like things were often really micro-managed and in your face. I wanted to start something new and build something for myself. I had an interest in mechanical stuff so thought I’d give diesel mechanics a crack,” she explained.
Followmont offered her a spot in its two-month Launch into Work program, where she earned her MR synchro license and forklift ticket.
After completing the course, she had plans to find an apprenticeship, but this all happened at about the same time that Covid hit – and those plans were quashed.
Lindley had done plenty of driving during her time at Followmont and loved every minute of it – so the plan switched from working under the bonnet to being behind the wheel.
She found work with Western Landscape Supplies, doing deliveries throughout Brisbane in a medium rigid, which she says was a great way to learn to navigate her truck in and out of small, tight spaces.
After about six months of searching for an employer willing to give her a go in a bigger truck, Lindley started working for Priddey Trucking Co, doing casual tipper work, carting asphalt.
“Priddey’s paid for me to get my HR licence. They were such a brilliant employer and put a lot of trust in me. My boss would let me practice in the Mack with another licenced driver out on the road,” Lindley said.
“It was a fantastic opportunity and built my confidence up too. It was a twin steer, which was bigger, so that gave me a lot of confidence for my test.”
Though she loved the work and the company, Lindley knew she needed to find more permanent work. I left in about December last year. Because asphalt is so weather dependent and it was coming up to Christmas, so I needed the money. If I had more work, I wouldn’t have left.”
It was then that she joined Wickham’s Freight Lines. Initially it was working in the warehouse – but not for long.
Though she was super eager to upgrade to her HC, money was tight and she couldn’t afford lessons – so her boss had one of the drivers take her out on the road and that driver became a mentor.
Knowing that Lindley only had auto qualifications but had been madly practicing, the next day the driver told her to jump in a truck with a Road Ranger and took her out along the back roads between Warwick and Pittsworth.
Lindley recalls it as being one of the most exhilarating yet terrifying days of her life. She passed her HC with flying colours.
Today she drives a 2007 Kenworth T404 SAR for Wickham’s, carrying general freight throughout Brisbane.
It’s been about two years since Lindley’s foray into the world of trucking began – and securing her MC licence in mid July has truly been the icing on the cake.
“I’m loving where I work and am keen to see what the future holds. I love the freedom and the peace. I can be myself in my job and I don’t need to conform to the ‘general work’ look. I met my partner through this as well, he does interstate,” she said.
While for now she’s content on perfecting her Road Ranger and B-double skills, Lindley hopes to one day get into interstate work – and perhaps even try her hand at livestock and heavy haulage work.
For others who have thought about getting into trucking, Lindley’s advice is short and sharp. “Just give it a go,” she said. “You’ll be surprised at where it can take you.”
Lindley also added, “When you are starting out, chase the experience over the money. Take the smaller jobs no one else wants to have a go at, drive the trucks no one else wants to drive. The experience you gain will become your biggest asset when it comes to finding a higher paying position.
“This career path has so many smaller, but just as rewarding directions you can take. How much you put into it is what you will get out of it.”