Now based in Canada, French truckie Julie Jacq has driven trucks all over the world and now has her sights set on one day returning to Australia to finish what she started.
Inspired by her grandfather, Julie Jacq became fascinated in trucks from an early age. “My grandfather was a truck driver and brought me with him in the truck a few times when I was young – that was a revelation for me,” she said.
“When I was nine years old, I was already asking my grandfather to teach me how to drive his car and I was very good at it straight away. By the age of about 16, I got very interested in trucks. Driving a car was too easy. I wanted something bigger and harder and above all, I wanted to know how to back up the big trailers.”
Combining two of her greatest passions – trucks and travel – her 14 years of truck driving have taken her all over the world.
“After I finished my studies and got a diploma at the age of 23, I went and got my truck licence. I first started driving in France and also saw a bit of Europe, delivering refrigerated goods to Belgium, Holland and Spain. My first truck was a Renault Premium 420hp with a semi trailer. I was doing reefer work, delivering to shops in different cities very early in the morning. It was small streets and small shops, so was very good for learning the size of the truck and how to back it up,” explained Jacq.
“But I needed more, so one day I packed a bag and flew to Australia. I wanted to drive there because I know Australia has the most impressive and biggest trucks in the world. I’ve always been fascinated by those big road trains and mining dump trucks. That’s why I came there.”
She arrived in WA in 2013, after securing a two-year Australian work visa. “Experiencing everything your beautiful country has to offer changed my life!”
When Jacq first arrived in Australia, she quickly found work, but it had nothing to do with trucks. With her French truck licence unable to be used in Australia, she needed the money to go for her truck licence. She secured her HC and headed straight to Newman, WA, in the hope of getting a job in the mines to drive the big dump trucks – and tick another item off her bucket list.
“As I had no experience in mining and I was on a temporary two-year work visa, I couldn’t get a job there so went back to Perth. I worked in a quarry in Wilbinga, delivering limestone to construction sites in Perth and its surroundings, with a truck and dog. Then I did some tipping work, carrying corn from farms to factories, followed by a bit of curtain-sider work for the same boss,” Jacq explained.
She then spent her last six months here working for Toll in Perth, doing fridge van work, delivering to Coles Supermarkets.
With less than one month remaining on her Australian work visa, she secured her MC licence. “My visa finished just a few days later so very sadly, I had to leave and never got the chance to find a job driving road trains.”
But at the end of her visa, she didn’t want to go home, so she moved across the ditch to New Zealand instead. “I was so sad to leave this beautiful country that I decided to apply for a one-year visa in New Zealand and got it! I spent a year at the same company doing crazy logging with a truck and dog combination. After all those great experiences, I had another country on my mind – America,” said Jacq.
After applying, she secured a two-year work visa and jet-setted across to her next adventure. She has been based in Canada for the past five years and has travelled far and wide.
Her first truck-driving gig over there was transporting fresh produce. “I started in a great company,” Jacq said. “I was doing two-up, 10,000 kilometres a week in a brand new Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft, a very big and comfy truck. I travelled almost everywhere in the USA and Canada.”
After two years with that company, Jacq went onto car hauling, across eastern Canada and the USA. But when Covid hit, the company had to close, so she went back to what she loves, logging.
Based in a small town in the north of Quebec, Canada, these days, Jacq spends part of the year doing logging work and the other part transporting race cars.
“From October to May, I work for a very small family company, transporting logs. This is where I probably increase my driving skills the most as I carry big logs on very icy, snowy and small forest roads. All winter it’s snowing and can drop to -35 degrees some days. Lots of fun and adrenaline.
You’ll find her behind the wheel of a 2019 Perterbilt 379 with a Cummins X15 engine, Road Ranger gearbox and a 53ft trailer.
“I can carry 59 tonne of logs on main roads and unlimited weights on forest roads. The biggest I carried was about 79 tonne. The logs are picked up pretty much everywhere in the forest, within 300 kilometres. I usually do one or two runs a day, it depends on how far it is.”
In 2022, she began working for a NASCAR team, transporting their racing cars all around Canada between May and September. She is also part of the team, assisting with pit stops and organisation.
“When I do the NASCAR race cars, I go to all of the races of the season that have been scheduled. It’s about 15 races all over Canada.
“I’ve had the chance to discover all of the USA from behind my steering wheel. The trucking industry is just amazing everywhere in the world. Driving all those different trucks and trailer combinations and seeing all those amazing sunsets gives me great joy and happiness,” Jacq said.
“What I love the most about this job is the challenge. I’m always looking to try a bigger truck on smaller roads with heavier weights. I love the fact that I get to operate such a big machine, being connected with my truck as I pass through each of the gears. I love hearing the sound of my engine and jake brakes. I spend hours trying to make my truck as shiny as possible.
“The freedom that truck driving gives me is very important too. Every sunset and sunrise are different and you get to see so many beautiful places all around the world. Truck driving is not only driving a truck, for me it’s a passion. It gives me joy, happiness and it makes me proud of myself.”
With a career that’s already spanned various continents and a diverse range of roles, Jacq has one thing that’s still on her mind. “I want to come back to Australia to finish what I started a few years ago, to finally get the chance to drive the biggest truck in the world in one of the most beautiful countries,” she explained.
“But immigration in Australia is very complicated as truck drivers aren’t on the priority skills list, which is crazy with all of the driver shortages over there – so fingers crossed!”