With filming already well underway for the long awaited return of Outback Truckers, producers of the popular television show have confirmed that fan favourite Steve Grahame will be back for season 10.
The veteran outback truckie, whose been on the road for 56 years, has been part of the show every season, since it debuted in 2012 – taking viewers along for the ride, as he travels to some of the most remote areas of Australia.
Based in Perth, Grahame’s work takes him into Pitjantjatjara land in northern South Australia, up through the Northern Territory and across the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
When he spoke with Big Rigs, he was just south of Port Hedland, heading home after delivering to a small community called Pandanus Park, located between Broome and Derby.
Though he was initially unsure about being featured on Outback Truckers, he says the show has done an amazing job of putting Australia on the map.
“Going back to 2012, when I first started on the show, I was embarrassed and felt like an absolute idiot, but I did it for my grandkids,” he said.
“Then when people other than truck drivers would start talking to me, I got the idea that thanks to Outback Truckers, people who weren’t in the business were starting to realise that truckies are just normal people with families like them, and that we are approachable.
“I think Outback Truckers really bridged that gap – and I’m proud that those of us who have been on the show helped to do that.
“I’m glad for what Outback Truckers has done to showcase Australia and the effort they’ve put into it.”
Grahame’s phone number is on the door of his truck. Thanks to the show’s global success – it’s been aired in over 120 countries – he says he’s received many calls from people overseas. “The number of phone calls I get from overseas people is amazing. They are amazed and so appreciative of what they’re seeing in Australia.”
He’s still behind the wheel of his trusty 1994 model Kenworth C501, which he purchased second hand in 1998 – and he estimates he’s done over three million kilometres in it since.
“I’ve worn two engines out, this is the third one since I’ve had the truck. I’m also on my second gearbox and third set of diffs. The only thing that’s original really is the chassis rails and the cab I’m sitting in,” he said.
“But I’d rather rebuild it than get rid of this old truck, it’s been good to me.”
Though he also revealed, “I’ve now been dragged kicking and screaming into the current generation with the new Cummins engine. The old engine blew up and it was going to cost me $95,000 to fix it. Now with this one, every 1500 kilometres, it gets me a saving of about 150 litres in fuel.”
And travelling alongside Grahame is his loyal companion, six-year-old Bella – a German shepherd/kelpie cross who comes along on every trip.
“She’s very good. She just annoyed the Cummins mechanic when she went along on a test drive with him,” he laughed. “Bella’s still the star of the show. She’s my truck alarm amongst other things and is good company.”
With filming for season 10 of Outback Truckers already underway, Grahame says the production crew has already come along for several trips. “They have been shooting a bit of stuff with me which was pre-wet season. One of the trips was across the Great Central Road into Alice Springs, and the other was a Perth to Darwin return trip.”
Though it took producers some time to be able to get a new season off the ground, Grahame is happy to see Outback Truckers returning.
“The producers had to stick their neck out a long way to keep this happening so I’m more than happy to give this another go. They don’t pay us for what we do because it’s an observational documentary, but the feedback I’ve received in a business sense has been really good,” he said.
With so many years of trucking and millions of kilometres under his belt, we asked Grahame what’s in store for the future. “I don’t think I’ll be doing this for a long, long time, but there’s still a few more years in me yet,” he said.
“I do enjoy the remote work, it’s as simple as that. When I pulled up at Pardoo last night, it was nice and cool and the breeze was flowing, and I just thought to myself, what a great way to earn a living. Out in the remote country, I still enjoy it very much.”
As for season 10 of Outback Truckers, producers have revealed that show favourites Sludge and Yogi are also expected to make a return to screens, along with numerous new faces.
Producers are currently on the hunt for truckies carrying challenging loads on challenging roads. To apply to be in the next season, email rachael.s@pros pero.com.au.