Outback, Truck driver, Truckie Profiles

Outback truckie says ‘it’s a big dream come true’

Ezekiel Clifford, 31, started out driving utes and vans, but these days you’ll find him steering a 2018 Mack Titan and triple road train on the weekly 3400-kilometre round trip from the Queensland town of Pittsworth to Mt Isa. 

First starting a school-based apprenticeship as a carpenter when he was 16, Clifford says he soon realised the trade just wasn’t for him. “So I started out small, driving utes and vans. I got my truck licence when I was about 21. Since then, I’ve worked my way up. I got my MR, then did my HR a few years after that, then got into semis, then B-doubles and now road trains. I’ve been driving road trains for the last six months or so, since I started working with Mt Isa Carriers,” he explained.

“I was a transport manager at the age of 25 but I got sick of the office and wanted to be behind the wheel again. It’s been a rollercoaster, but getting to where I am is something I’ve always wanted to do.

“I’ve been a big fan of trucks since I was a little fella. It’s just something I’ve always loved.

“It’s definitely been a big dream come true driving road trains. I feel like that’s been up there for me since I was a little one.”

Based on the Gold Coast, Clifford secured his MC licence about 12 months ago and did B-double linehaul work down to Sydney and Melbourne, as well as into North Queensland, and anywhere in between. “I did that for around six months before getting into road trains, so that was a big step up,” he said.

“I’ve been lucky with all my past employers who gave me a go. I remember with one company, I rocked up to an interview and he said there were people in front of me with much more experience, but that I had a great attitude, so he put me on and gave me a go – and that gave me a lot of confidence.”

Now with Mt Isa Carriers, Clifford says he’s found a brilliant company to work for. “It’s a great family run business and everyone gets along with each other. They’re not too big, so you’re not just a number. They help me, develop me and have been really supportive since I started.

“Our boss Kent Baillie is really great – he engages with everyone. There’s no rush to get from A to B. They give us reasonable times and they’re all about safety as well – making sure we’re getting our breaks and properly managing our fatigue.” 

Clifford’s home on the Gold Coast is some three hours away from the Pittsworth depot, but he’s more than happy to travel the 260-kilometre journey to pick up his truck each week. “It’s only once a week and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love what I do,” he said.

Clifford has been with Mt Isa Carriers for the past six months.

Clifford’s typical working week begins on a Tuesday, where he picks up the truck and makes his way to Mt Isa, carrying general freight and equipment for the mines, sometimes with a few stops along the way. He’s usually away for four days – or five at most – typically arriving back home on a Saturday morning or sometimes on the Sunday. 

“I do a set run from Pittsworth to Mt Isa, but sometimes have extra deliveries along the way,” he said.

“It’s predominantly bitumen; but the worst road I’d say is from Morven out to Augathella. It gets pretty rough out there, heading out to Mt Isa.”

Clifford added that the Titan is great to drive and easy to handle, rolling along without a hitch since he began with the company. 

Along the trip, Clifford says he likes stopping at the Walkabout Creek Hotel in McKinlay, which was made famous after it was featured in the iconic 1980s film Crocodile Dundee. “I’ve been stopping there for the last six months. We also deliver mail into there as well. It’s always been a great spot to stop in. I get along really well with the publicans Deb and Frank, they’re great people with great hospitality every time I go there, and they’re always great to chat to. They offer a great feed too.”

For Clifford, he has certainly found his passion and plans to be in the game for the long haul. 

“I definitely see myself doing this for a while. I won’t be getting out of trucking any time soon,” he said.

“I love getting out there in the middle of nowhere and driving the country roads. You’re your own boss once you get out there. I still look back in my mirrors and when I see that road train behind me, I think wow! And then to be able to park up underneath the stars, I think that’s one of the things I enjoy the most.”

His nine-year-old daughter Aaliyah loves coming in the truck.

But out of everything he loves about the work, he says his biggest highlight is being able to share his passion with his nine-year-old daughter Aaliyah, who has also had the opportunity to travel in the truck with him. “Recently my boss allowed me to take her for a trip during the school holidays,” revealed Clifford. 

“I’ve got a great boss, it’s a great company to work for and I get along with anyone and everyone out there, including our clients.”

When asked about the most challenging parts of the job, Clifford replies, “I love everything about my job – I can’t say anything is hard, because any challenge is a learning curve. This is a stable job, where I feel good and I feel comfortable. I couldn’t see myself working anywhere else any time soon!”

1 Comment

  1. Good luck with new job Ziggy,
    Be careful out there., those roads out that way are very quiet but also dangerous at night, so take care. Will definately catch up with you soon.

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