Features, Truckie Profiles

Wheels keep turning on this trusty 1980 model workhorse

After over four decades on the road and more than seven million kilometres on the clock, this 1980 Kenworth cabover is still working as hard as ever.

Despite doing so many kilometres the truck still has its original engine – though it’s had a few rebuilds.

Only a limited number of the model were made. It’s powered by a Caterpillar 3408 V8 18-litre engine that has plenty of grunt.

The truck belongs to veteran truckie Chris Dinsdale, 73, who’s been an owner-operator since 1981.

He’s based at Ferntree Gully in Victoria and travels around the country in his trusty old Kenworth including to NSW, Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Big Rigs saw Dinsdale at BP Cluden having lunch on Sunday August 13 and he was happy to have a yarn.

“I am carrying pipes from Melbourne to Townsville and have been doing lots of runs from Melbourne to the north up here,” he said.

Dinsdale likes stopping at the Caiguna Roadhouse in WA when over there as well as the BP Cluden in Townsville. “They both have good food and plenty of parking.”

He rates the Cunamulla to Charleville section of the Mitchell Highway amongst the worst he gets on. “There are many potholes and road trains can’t safely do more than 75km/h.”

Another road Dinsdale finds challenging is what is known as the Plenty Highway from Alice Springs to the NT Border.

“From the NT border to Boulia in Queensland is also rough,” he said.

Outside work, Dinsdale enjoys motorbikes and has a Kawasaki Z900RS which is his pride and joy.

He also has a BMW S1000RR 200hp motorbike he rides at Phillip Island on track days.

“I really enjoy life on the road and am doing this job for Simon Transport which is a great company to deal with,” he said.

I asked the friendly but quietly spoken Dinsdale what was the most unusual load he had transported.

“It would have to be 40 emus in a trailer from WA to farms in Victoria and NSW. They hated getting into the trailer but at the end of the trip didn’t want to get out. I did it for two years when I was only running singles instead of road trains like I do now. They were treated very well and had sand under them and a water spray system to keep them hydrated,” he said.

Dinsdale says one of the best jobs he ever had was hauling drill rigs to Central Australia and the Top End of the NT.

I saw that the Kenworth had WA number plates when he was based in Victoria and asked him why. “I travel to WA a lot,” he said.

Dinsdale also has a successful YouTube channel which he showed me on his phone. The videos have had over 16 million views and he has more than 20,000 subscribers.

I really enjoyed talking to this gentleman of the highways and byways who was travelling in tandem with NSW owner driver Ted Markwort.

In conclusion I asked Dinsdale how he felt to be a Septuagenarian, which is a person over 70.

“I am in very good health. I have regular check-ups and my blood pressure is excellent and so is my heart rate,” he said.

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