A veteran truckie with over 30 years and millions of kilometres under his belt, Jamie Winnell, 53, has worked for Emerald Carrying Company for the past five and a half years.
After over 1 million kilometres in his K200, this truckie stepped into a blinged up T908.
Though it was a sad day to be handing over the keys to the truck he’s driven for the past five years recently, Winnell says he’s excited to work towards another million kilometres in the head turning 2010 model T908.
Emerald Carrying has had the truck since brand new, though its engine was upgraded from a Cummins EGR to a Euro 5 compliant Cummins X15 in order to better meet today’s emission standards. The new 600hp engine delivers up to 2050 pounds of torque and is paired to a sports exhaust.
“The T908 has nearly 2.1 million kilometres on the clock and it still looks like new. Steven Cullen was the driver who was in the truck before me – he’s from Gympie as well. He’s stepped out of that to go into a new SAR Legend that’s on its way. Steven has done a fantastic job in looking after the truck in the 1 million kilometres he’s put on it over the past five years,” explained Winnell.
“When I put a photo of the K200 up on Facebook, it got over 4900 likes and people were asking why I was getting out of it, but the T908 is the boss’ pride and joy – and he asked me if I wanted to drive it.
“I do like the cabovers, but I also like the bonneted trucks as they’re a hell of a lot more of a comfortable ride, especially as I’m getting older. But it’s got the same amount of horsepower as my previous truck, so it doesn’t perform or go any different out on the road. Though they do say you’re cool if you’re driving a 9oh,” he joked.
Based in Gympie, Winnell’s usual runs involve carrying B-double loads of general freight from Brisbane to the company’s Emerald depot overnight, carting stone for concrete plants across southeast Queensland, and transporting general freight to some of the state’s coal mines and their surrounding townships.
“Every day is a different day, every load is different and everything I do is overnight. I love the overnight run – there’s a lot less traffic on the road, it’s a little quieter, it’s a fantastic life, it really is. I get to go somewhere different every day. We’re always right up on our legal weight too,” Winnell said.
Originally from Wangaratta, he turned to trucking in 1991. “I came from a country town, so there weren’t too many work options but there were plenty of trucks. I started out at Canny’s Carrying Company in Wangaratta and I’ve been driving trucks ever since. I love trucks and I don’t think that will ever change,” he said.
“Out on the road, the scenery changes every time you look out the window. At school, the teacher used to always tell me to stop looking out the window. Well, I’ve been looking out the window for 30 years now and it pays really well!”
Winnell made the move to Queensland in 2003 and lived in Caloundra for about 10 years before moving to Gympie.
“My family was up here and I thought it was a better lifestyle to bring up my daughter Jasmin, who’s now 21. Her mother walked out on us when she was six months old, so I lived with my parents for 10 years so I could keep driving and provide a good life for her,” explained Winnell, who’s taken Jasmin on countless trips in the truck.
He recalled one particular occasion when she was in grade two. Each student got to take it in turns bringing a toy home (it was Ernie from Sesame Street). Then they had to do a write-up about what adventures they had had. So Winnell, Jasmin and Ernie set off in the truck, some 700 kilometres away.
He married Jodie in 2013 and says he’s been flat out driving ever since.
“This is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s a rewarding one.
“You do miss some things you wish you were home for, but my daughter and wife Jodie have always backed me 100 per cent – and they’ve sacrificed a lot too.”
Being family owned and run, Emerald Carrying is a great fit for this family man. It was started by Bill and Joan Haylock in 1965 and is now run by their son, managing director Greg Haylock. And now he’s joined by his children: Matt Haylock as group general freight/fleet manager; Ben Haylock who is group operations manager; and Taylor Haylock who works in administration.
“Greg Haylock is a very humble man. Matt runs the general freight side and he’s fantastic – he’s only a young fella with a big responsibility. Emerald Carrying is a real family business and as long as you keep the trucks clean, you don’t hear boo from them,” said Winnell.
“They know all our kids’ names and our partners – it’s really family orientated. There are a lot of companies out there where people can work for over 10 years, and they don’t even know the names of their driver’s wives and partners.
“Jodie does hop in the truck with me and comes to Emerald sometimes. I just need to let the boss know. My parents still live in Caloundra so I pull in every week and get to see them. This company is fantastic when it comes to work/life balance. I’m usually home by Saturday morning and then load on a Tuesday. Of course that sometimes changes if someone is away or something pops up, but they’re really good to work for. It’s been a fantastic job – and hopefully I can keep going until I’m old,” said Winnell, adding that he reckons he’s got at least another 22 years on the road in him.
“People say once you’ve driven diesel, you can never get the diesel out of your blood. A bad day of trucking is still a better day than sitting in the office. A great man once said to me: If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”