Lifelong passion pays off for army-trained truckie

Joshua Ulbrich caught the transport bug early. Growing up in Milton along the south coast of NSW, he loved nothing more than watching trucks loading and unloading livestock at the nearby saleyards. 

“When I was five years old, my mother got a knock at the door one day and one of the drivers was standing there,” Joshua recalled. 

“The driver asked where I was, and she said I was asleep in bed. He said, ‘No he’s not, he’s off in the corner of the saleyards waving to all the drivers coming in!’”

Decades later, his childhood love for trucks has translated into a great career in trucking – and he was named Professional Driver of the Year at the National Trucking Industry Awards in Canberra last month. 

Joshua has been an MC interstate driver with Ross Transport for the past 10 years and is known for his meticulous presentation of the 2017 limited edition pink Kenworth T909 he drives for them. 

At the ATA awards ceremony, he was also praised for exceptional discipline and professionalism, which he credits to his time in the military.

After washing trucks and working for a removals company when he was a teenager, Joshua joined the army at the age of 20. 

He spent the next 14 years as a combat engineer, and was able to get his truck licences, from light rigid up to multi combination, during this time. 

“For me and for many others who have obtained their licences in the defence force, it was definitely a great training environment,” he said. 

“An example of this is my HC licence. In the military, this a five-week course.

“During the course I had to load and unload trucks with different loads each time, I had to restrain and tarp them. 

“At the end of my five weeks, I had to do a driving test from Seymour in Victoria to Brisbane CBD, and then back.”

Joshua said these high standards were a fantastic start to his driving career. 

“There was a minimum of 60 hours behind the wheel before I could go for my licence,” he said. 

“This is what I think the industry can look into to train new drivers.”  

Alan Ross said it would be hard to find a more deserving winner than Joshua. Image: Sandy Lattin

During his time with Ross Transport, Joshua has always been happy to pass on his knowledge to younger drivers, whether he’s showing them how to tarp or giving advice on paperwork. 

“It gives me great pleasure to say that I’ve helped those people, both men and women, in the industry,” he added. 

He thanked Alan Ross for giving him a job after he left the army, and for entrusting him to drive his pride and joy – a very special Kenworth named “Truely Frantastic” after Fran and True Ross, Alan’s mother and daughter respectively. 

“The 909 I drive is painted bright pink and was made to support  the fight against cancer and recognise women in transport,” he added. 

“It’s a privilege to work for Alan Ross, who is a very honest and humble person who often goes out of his way for his drivers.” 

Joshua said he counts himself lucky to spend every day around the machines that captured his imagination as a child. 

“Here is a kid that grew up loving trucks, and now I’m the ATA Driver of the Year,” he said.

“To say I never would have imagined this would be an understatement.

“Like any job, it does have its days. 

“You wonder what it’s all for, but then you get up the next day. And I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

Alan Ross said it would be hard to find a more deserving winner for Professional Driver of the Year than Joshua. 

“He’s got a great attitude that’s pretty hard to find these days,” he said. “He’s quite a tough guy with an army background, but he’s got a big heart.  

“He’s always the first to help anyone he sees broken down on the side of the road, as well as all of our employees, especially our women drivers.  

“He’s known by everyone up and down the east coast, and he drives a pink truck more proudly than anyone I know.”

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