Worthy inductee onto trucking industry’s hallowed wall


“ANY truck driver who isn’t proud of being on that Wall of Fame, you’ve just got to tell them that they’re the ones keeping this country moving!” says 2023 inductee, Andrew McKean.

Despite feeling immensely proud of his nomination and subsequent induction into the Shell Rimula Hall of Fame, Andy was emotional upon receiving his award.

He admits he was doubting himself: “Am I receiving this for the right reasons? Do I deserve this?” Taking a look back at Andy’s 40-plus years in the transport industry, there is no question that he has earned his rightful place up on the wall.

Andy’s interest in trucks may be traced back to his father, who worked in ground transportation for the Australian Airforce prior to and during World War 2. Perhaps he took inspiration from his brothers, an accountant for Harris Transport and a grain and fertiliser carter respectively.

In any case, it didn’t take much persuasion for an 18-year-old Andy to trade his work on a farm, driving tractors, for a class 3 licence and a spot behind the wheel of an old Commer, carting potatoes from Mathoura to Echuca for the local cafes.

After one very hot season moving grain in an International Acco Butterbox, Andy headed south to Melbourne in search of a longer-term role.

With Southern Cross Removals, Andy began a 15-year career in furniture transport and removals. Andy became well-acquainted with the Hume and Newell Highways, travelling between Melbourne and Cairns, Brisbane and Townsville on a weekly basis.

By 1989, Andy was a sales estimator for Rainbow Moving and Storage in Townsville, responsible for the quoting and booking of jobs.

When Rainbow Moving and Storage wound up, Andy went north to the Atherton Tablelands. Tasked with organising removals south to Brisbane, Andy would be loaded with new furniture for stores in Atherton Tablelands on his return.

Heading back to Melbourne in 1993, Andy was quickly picked up by Konway Express to haul general freight interstate in a Kenworth T404.

After an enjoyable six years with Konway Express, Andy was met at the yard one day by liquidators. He was handed a letter thanking him for his service and was instructed to collect his gear out of his truck – a harsh reality for many against the backdrop of 2002’s millennium drought, weaker global economy, and increasingly competitive industry.

On October 9, 2002, Andy, while driving for Transtar Express, was hijacked and held hostage for five hours. This incident saw him step away from transport for two years while he sought support from his family, friends and professionals.

Andy spent this time erecting and inspecting scaffolding for the Commonwealth Games Village. By the time Andy’s work on the Commonwealth Games facilities was complete in 2005, he felt ready to get back behind the wheel.

Andy had an enjoyable six years with Konway Express.

“I felt I had to because I had a mortgage, but I knew I wanted to get back my passion for trucks. I had to get in there and earn it,” Andy recalls.

It was a good friend of Andy’s that played an important role in his recovery by offering him a role with Highway Haulage, doing scaffold deliveries in a UD truck.

Without a bunk, Andy would sleep behind the seats. “I used to call it a veggie rack, because you would wake up in the morning feeling like a bag of rotten fruit.”

He notes that the National Road Transport Museum houses a twin-steer, single-axle UD similar to that which he used to drive. “My back still twists up when I look at it!”

Andy, having experienced many different facets of the transport industry, says he has noticed that companies are starting to get hungrier, both for work and for drivers.

A decade ago, securing a backload from Sydney was a given. However, now, Andy notes that a driver will have to fight for the opportunity and is not always given a fair disbursement. For an owner-operator to survive in this industry today, Andy advises that a handful of “really good contacts” is essential.

Although Andy has plans to retire in the next year, he has plenty of suggestions as to how he’d like to see the industry improved to best support the next generation of operators.

Better facilities at rest and fuel stops can make the time spent away from home more sustainable.

“In the 80s, we used to have our certain spots along the Newell Highway where you could get a decent meal – a good steak or a lamb chop,” recalls Andy.

“Nowadays, there’s bugger all unless you want fast food.”

Andy’s late wife, Joy, always planned, had they had the money, to open their own truck stop and keep it stocked with healthy, hearty food.

While Andy and Joy never did open their truck stop, Andy had his fair share of hospitality practice out on the road.

Doing long hauls, Andy would pull up and cook himself a steak and, if he was still hungry, he’d make pancakes. He recounts a time where two or three other truck drivers joined him, having smelt his pancakes cooking. He was prepared with an extra bottle of pancake mix and provided what the other operators described as “the best food they’d had in a long time!”

Andy acknowledges that the regulation of the transport industry that we see today is necessary but recommends that the NHVR also consider rewarding compliant behaviour, rather than focusing on penalising breaches.

Where an inspector is satisfied that the operator is compliant, Andy proposes it would go a long way to be told, “Well done, you’ve done the right thing. Here’s a truck wash voucher, or a free feed at the dine-in”.

It is clear that Andy is no stranger to advocacy for his industry, although not always intentionally. When driving Melbourne to Sydney, Andy got caught in the early rumblings of the blockade of the Hume Highway, just past Mittagong.

He couldn’t get past the protestors so had no choice but to stick with them. He was travelling so slowly that his truck overheated and, in turn, blew up. Andy wouldn’t make it to Sydney, nor could a tow truck from Sydney get to him, and so he was cornered at Mittagong. He notes that it was lucky he only had plastic bottles on.

Today, Andy is semi-retired in Mathoura and works part-time driving the courtesy bus for the RSL – the best in the business if you ask his patrons. From UFOs to a particularly memorable display by a stranded bus of women on the Hume Highway, Andy remembers his time in transport with great fondness.

“Every day is different and that’s what I like about trucking. It’s a bit like life: some days you wake up and there’s a whole line of caravans in front of you, other days you wake up and you’ve got a clear run. It is what it is.”

Living on the Cobb Highway, Andy never feels too disconnected from his life in transport as many of his mates give him a toot while passing through on their way from Melbourne, often at midnight.

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