From the passenger seat of his father’s truck, Tyson Staben, 26, was already learning the ins and outs of truck driving when he was just a little kid.
The second-generation truckie credits his dad with teaching him all he knows. “My dad drove semis around Adelaide, so I would travel in the truck with him. He then started a small business when I was 10 years old, doing furniture deliveries. I’ve always loved trucks. I used to get told off at primary school for standing on the fence and getting the truckies to blow the air horn,” he said.
“Dad and the other blokes that worked with him taught me how to drive the truck, but I owe everything I know to my dad. I used to work with him on weekends from about the age of 15. I started out washing trucks and helping where I could, then jumped in the truck as an offsider, and then progressed to getting my licence. Dad sold up about five years ago.”
At 20, Staben got his HC licence, and then by 24 he had secured his MC.
Based in SA, the Riverland local has worked at Morgan Sawmill for close to 18 months, pulling B-doubles and road trains from behind the wheel of a 2017 Kenworth T909, which he had his eye on for some time.
“I love this truck. I used to always see it around at my old job and thought it would be nice to drive one of those one day. Now, it’s got 920,000 kilometres on the clock and it still looks brand new,” he said.
Morgan Sawmill is located in Jamestown and runs a fleet of seven prime movers and a rigid tipper. As Staben explained, “99 per cent of the work is timber work. They cut all their own wood and I cart it all around, mostly to Adelaide, as well as into Victoria. We also cart other people’s freight throughout South Australia and to Melbourne and Brisbane.”
As he stopped to chat with Big Rigs, Staben had just been loaded up with around 40 tonne of timber in Mt Gambier, which was bound for Loxton.
Staben rates the travel as one of the job’s best perks. “You’re always moving and get to see a lot of the countryside and the way it changes. You could be driving through dust and sandstorms one year – and then a year later, it’s all flooded.”
Though the recent wet weather and subsequent floods have caused additional challenges as of late. “The last time I went up to Brisbane, I got stuck at Moree in NSW, when they closed all the roads because they were flooded. They were actually getting all of the trucks out of town under escort because they were running out of food. The town was blocked off by flooding in every direction,” he explained.
Staben’s favourite places to travel through are Colac and Mildura. “It’s mainly on all the backroads and is really nice going up through there – and it’s quiet. Although the roads are shocking. They have gotten worse with all this flooding. Potholes get filled in, then it rains again and washes them all out.
“The road between Cressy and Ballarat is pretty bad at the moment too. It feels like it’s getting skinnier and skinnier every time you go down there, and there’s a big drop off the side. You don’t want to be coming across another B-double in the opposite direction. The Gore Highway between Goondiwindi and Toowoomba is pretty bad too at the moment, it’s all just flood damage I think.”
When travelling through Victoria’s west, Staben’s favourite place to stop at is the Mortlake Roadhouse. “The owner there, Dion, is just a legend. The food is really good, so you’ve got to be hungry if you want to try and finish it all. The servings are huge. If I’m planning on stopping there, I don’t eat for the day,” he laughed.
Though he lives and breathes trucking, and loves the travel, Staben says being away from home so much can be tough too. “You have zero social life. There’s only two days in the week to get everything else done, and that’s only if you get home for the weekend. Every now and then I’ll go away for two weeks at a time,” he added.