Fatigue management, News, Roadhouses, Truckies’ health and wellbeing

‘I was on the road for five days – I couldn’t get dinner on three of them’

An owner-driver from Toowoomba, Queensland has said the shortage of decent truck stops is having a major impact on truckies’ morale and fatigue levels.  

Karen Hawker told Big Rigs that she recently drove from Brisbane to Adelaide and back again, and on three of the five nights she was away from home, she wasn’t able to have a proper meal for dinner.  

On the first night of her trip, she stopped at the Ampol Foodary in Cobar, NSW after driving for 12 hours, only to be told the kitchen was closed.  

“I hadn’t been down that way for a long time, but I had been told Cobar was a good place to stop and get dinner,” she said.  

“There’s not much before it on the road, and there’s definitely nothing until Broken Hill after it. 

“It was 8.07pm, it was still daylight, and I thought I would be able to get a sit-down meal.  

“I went in to order dinner and was told the kitchen was closed and there was no cook.”  

Hawker said that other truckies had recommended the nearby Inland Petroleum, but it was shut by the time she got there.  

“People have said that the Inland Petroleum is good, but it closes at 8pm,” she said.  

“I ended up having to have a hot box chicken roll from Ampol for my dinner.”  

The next night, Hawker stopped at the Shell in Buronga.  

“They have a restaurant at the Shell there but that was shut down for renovation for two weeks.

“All I could get was a hot pie at 10pm, that was my dinner that night.”  

The night after that, Hawker had planned to eat at the Coolabah Tree Cafe at the Shell Coles Express in West Wyalong. 

That had always been a place where my husband would stop for a shower and a feed when he was on the road,” she said.  

“I had planned in advance to pull in there and get my feed at 6pm and then do another few hours after that. 

“But when I arrived there was a sign on the door saying on Saturday it was shut at 3pm.”  

Hawker said she was “really cranky” by the time she got back to Queensland, and she thinks something should be done to ensure there are more places for truckies to stop and have a proper meal.  

“I can’t believe this is what it’s come to,” she said.

“It never used to be this bad. 

“They need to get someone in government or in the trucking industry to set up a standard and monitor where there are truck stops that are open and functioning.”  

She said that a dried-out sandwich or a hot box meal just doesn’t cut it after a long day of driving, and not having anywhere to enjoy a proper sit-down meal is having an impact on truckies’ mental health and fatigue. 

“You’re concentrating all the time when you’re driving and it causes mental fatigue,” she said. 

“You need to get away from the truck and sit down, relax, take your mind off it all.”  

She said more and more truckies are now bringing their own food on the road and eating in their trucks, which has resulted in less camaraderie in the industry.  

“I used to work for Lindsay Transport years ago, in the office, and the drivers used to always have their set stops where they would all sit together and have dinner like a big family. 

“I think that’s what missing in the industry a lot of the time.  

“More and more people are starting to carry their own food, which is all well and good but then they are keeping to themselves.  

“They are cooking their food in their truck, they are hopping back in their truck – there’s no interaction.” 




  1. that’s ridiculous closed at 3pm on a Saturday. you would think that would be a busy time.

    what some of it is is the situation with penalty rates in hospitality.
    the owners dont want to pay the staff. the solution is simple no penalty rates just because its a weekend, but a higher hourly rate. if saturday is your normal work day 3 to 8pm and you have mondays off and the boss calls you in then you get a penalty rate. make them hire sufficient staff to cover the hrs required.

    we have a 7day 24hr society yet our wages system is still stuck in the 1950s.

  2. It used to be 10 drivers at one table, then it was one driver at 10 tables all with their heads in their phones, now you’re lucky to find somewhere that doesn’t ask if you want fries with that?
    I stop at pubs alot now, some have showers, most have the grill going. Good luck finding somewhere to eat when you need it. Good luck getting politicians to live like that. Maybe shut the bar and the kitchens at parliament house, make them sleep in their office with no amenities and food? See how long that lasts?

  3. It’s sad to see. I’m an ex manager at a popular trick stop on the Newell highway. Unfortunately Ampol took so many hours off us we had to close the kitchen early. I copped a heap of abuse because of it from the drivers. It had nothing to do with me but I copped it. You guys are legends and deserve better, I don’t work for them anymore after 10 years of service, they are killing the industry that keeps us all going

  4. Karen,

    The thing is the powers that be, wherever there are, don’t want interaction, they want isolation and if they could click their fingers they would have no drivers at all
    They make it difficult for Roadhouses to operate , death by a thousand cuts , red tape etc, ask a Roadhouse operator why they got out of the industry.

    We need to get the heads in industry and government to act, but a fish rots from the head,

    It’s depressing, but until people wake up and start voting for a different type of politician nothing will change for the better


    Avoca , Vic

  5. It’s not an easy fix, Rob Peter to pay Paul, it all started to really change in the late 89’s early 2000’s, the cost of running the roadhouse kitchen with increase overheads and the lack of financial increase in wages for drivers. Towns been bypassed so the roadhouses didn’t even get the flow on traffic from the general public in between truckies stopping. So many facets that gave created this issue. Can it be changed maybe maybe at a cost a big cost. To the kind of kind of truck drivers that are out the now, to staff of roadhouses, there isn’t the intention of this is what I want to do, it is the attitude of ow do I have to. The passion of the industry as a whole from the driver to the transport operators/owners to the roadhouse staff to to the rta, the attitude has changed from a lifestyle to a job and that is where it the industry has lost its admiration, respect, glory, even financial reward for all. We could go on bit it’s not going to change back to the way it should be.

  6. No toad house meals for me!!! Too rich and yhe result you can see travelling along. I carry food with me. My Scania has a fridge, a freezer and microwave thus I am independent and remain healthy

  7. If all heavy professional drivers were treated no different to light vehicle drivers and be allowed to consume alcohol up to .05 ,drivers could then stop for a counter meal at bush Pubs like we used to have a couple of pots with a decent feed ,and if we didn’t have a sleeper cab many times the publican would give us a bed or one at discounted rate because so many of us were frequenting their hotel .

  8. there were more places open in the 80’s than now, surely the oil companies could do more for the industry than this. We need similar truck stops like in the US but the can’t do attitude by governments and big business we probably never see them.

  9. Lots of good places to eat that can’t be open at the odd hours some want , another problem is not enough truck drivers actually want a sit down meal anymore . And wages prevent places keeping kitchens open at unreasonable hours . The cost of keeping a well stocked kitchen when there isn’t the big demand is also not viable long term .

  10. Maybe take your meals with you like we used to do,you have fridges and micro waves to do it all,and thats something we never had and still survived

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