Based in a rural town about an hour and a half north of Perth, Melinda Leeds, 45, carts everything from cattle to grain, lime sand and fertiliser.
She originally got her truck licence about 20 years ago and progressed to her MC three years ago, to help her husband Matthew Leeds, 46, during harvest time.
“Before getting my HC, I was using 8-tonners to cart sheep, cattle and horses. Back then I used to work on stations – one at Kalgoorlie and then I went out to Springvale, just out of Halls Creek, to cart horses and cattle,” she said.
Melinda drives a 2005 Scania R580 and Matthew has a Mack Titan and Mack ValueLiner. They also have their own tippers and recently purchased a moving floor trailer.
“We purchased the Scania about three years ago with the intent that it’d be my truck. Before that I was driving my husband’s Titan. I love my truck, it’s so comfortable and it’s got a big V8. You always hear about the Kenworths and Macks, but I’m proud of my Scania,” she said.
Matthew’s father has his own livestock transport business, called Leeds’ Cattle Transport, which has been running for around 40 years or so. “They run about eight trucks and do the big seven decker 53.5m road trains. When we need cattle crates, we use the family ones,” Melinda explained.
While the couple predominantly carts grain, fertiliser and lime, they also have a contract to transport chicken manure. Generally the travel is within about a 150km radius, however when they do the cattle runs, that can sometimes send them further afield.
“I really enjoy the cattle runs. It’s obviously a lot more work, but I love cattle anyway. I’ve worked with cattle for 25 years and grew up on a sheep station north of Carnarvon, which is right on the coast,” Melinda added.
When asked what she loves most about the work, Melinda answers without hesitation. “It’s the camaraderie – especially because a lot of the drivers around the local area know my husband so well, they’ve really taken me under their wing. I do silly things like wave like crazy when I drive past them and put tinsel on the truck at Christmas time,” she said.
“The people we deal with are really nice, but some of the other drivers on the road can make it hard. The road conditions can sometimes make it pretty tricky too, especially getting into some of the farms where the roads are like billy goat tracks! Blowing a steer tyre is always on the back of my mind.”
Melinda says she loves being a husband-and-wife team and being able to work together. The couple have three kids too – Harrison, 11, Ethan, 10 and Mac, 6. “Our kids love going in the trucks. Our eldest son is truck-mad. They love travelling with my husband. The younger two love going in the truck too because they won’t let him pass a roadhouse without stopping to fill them up with lollies.
“I can definitely see Harrison getting into truck driving when he’s older. He can tell you what trucks and trailers are from a mile away and knows all the details. I have a picture of him at three years old, tying down ratchet straps. He loves everything his dad does!”