Shows, Truck events

Weather gods spare truck fans at Alexandra Truck Show

One of these years on the Sunday of the King’s Birthday weekend, it is absolutely going to bucket down in Victoria’s high country.

The roads will flood, the rich red earth will splash rust-like stains on anything it touches – and still, over 300 trucks and 15,000 plus lovers of them will come to Alexandra for their annual truck show.

In this, the 28th running of the event, the weather gods, as they have always done, delivered threatening skies together with the odd short sprinkle here and there throughout the day, just to remind you they are hanging close by, then they retreat.

The locals swear this is god’s country and they may just be right.

The result of a crazy idea to put on a truck show in winter all those years ago, the Alexandra Truck, Ute and Rod Show has paid off handsomely for the organisers and the town of 2200.

This year 320 big rigs registered for the event, covering an estimated 21/2 kilometres of tarmac down the main street and its tributaries. A record number of stallholders filled the centre of the street and the estimated crowd of 16-18,000 made sure that they all did a roaring trade.

TCB’s Don Madafferi (R) with driver Craig Babecki and the K100G. Image: Graham Harsant

When Don Madafferi was born, he was brought home from the hospital in a truck. Where others may have received a scooter or bike for their fifth birthday, Don was given a hand-held grease gun.

“Yep, trucking’s in the blood,” he quips.

Anyone who’s seen one of Don’s trucks will never forget them. Running TCB (Taking Care of Business) Transport out of Dandenong South, with offices in Sydney and Brisbane, Don has a fleet of 60 trucks and 119 trailers.

He brought two of them to Alexandra – an eye-catching red Kenworth 2002 T404 and equally startling 1997 K100G cab over, both with 60 Series Detroits. With customised grills, more lights than a Christmas tree, strapless tanks (on the cab over) and chrome everywhere, these hot rods are something special.

You’d be forgiven for thinking they are just show ponies, but Don says they’re both working trucks, hauling pre-cast concrete slabs onto building sites.

“Often it’s into mud and slush and they have to be towed in and out,” he said. “It’s a credit to the drivers that they keep them like this all the time.”

TCB has been featured in a three-part series on 7Mate (now on 7Plus) called Rides Down Under Aussie Truckers and Don informs us there is more to come from July, with a second series commissioned for next year.

Nearly $1 million worth of truck. Modern Towing’s T610, driven by Andrew Burgoyne. Image: Graham Harsant

Andrew Burgoyne is a towie for Modern Towing & Salvage and brought a two-tone yellow and white T610 heavy salvage vehicle Alexandra.

The company has recently bought Eagle Towing into the fold and this truck is part of a fleet now numbering some 22 heavy haulage units, plus tilt trays. With a unit cost of around $950,000, you can bank on a hefty bill should you need to call one of these beasts out.

Like others in his trade, Andrew has seen too much of the sad side of trucking.

“You hope for a simple breakdown, but there’s always the heartbreaking side of the business when attending an accident,” he said, beseeching everyone to take care out there.

Shaun Bradley from Maryborough has attended the show for the past five years as a spectator, but this time turned up with a truck you’ll rarely see – a 1998 Freightliner FLB. With only some 200 brought into the country, the truck underwent a full nut and bolt restoration 127,000km ago.

Skye and Shaun Bradley with sons Archer, Rylan and Jase in front of Shaun’s rare Freightliner FLB. Image: Graham Harsant

“I was looking for a Kenworth when I came across this,” said Shaun, who is a flooring installer by trade. “I’ve had enough of that trade and I’m hoping to get into trucking and put this old girl to work.”

Some trucks are older, like Shaun’s, and others are newer. You couldn’t get much newer than Andrew James’ Mack Superliner, whose maiden voyage was to Alex.

“Don’t lean on the paintwork,” Jamesy quipped. “She ain’t dry yet.”

Finished in stunning purple on a black body with orange scrolling, The Mack has been added to Jamesy’s K200 and T950 Kenworths, and his Freightliner Argosy which, in what may be a surprise to some detractors, he reckons he just can’t kill.

Andrew James’ Mack Superliner: so new the paint’s not dry yet. Image: Graham Harsant

The Superliner puts out 685 hp running through a 13 speed auto. Set up for three trailer work, hauling tankers of molasses to feedlots, the truck is Jamesy’s first new one, and probably his last.

“Mate, I’m hitting 60 so I reckon this’ll see me out,” he said.

When asked why he went for an auto, he repeated his age: “I’ve driven it from Wodonga to here and I’ll never go back to a manual. Changes are superb, got bog gears for heavy loads, virtually idles at 100kph and it’s like driving a car. The 60” sleeper will also suit this 60 year old as I’m away five nights a week. Time to spoil myself a little.”

The 12 months of effort that went into producing ‘Backroads Motel’, as the truck is called, paid off with Jamesy winning best truck under 12 months and second overall in Rig of the Show.

The top award went to Damian Reid and his magic, Whitehead of Mt Gambier, 2022 T909 Kenworth, no doubt aptly named ‘Over Budget’. Over budget the truck may have been, but it certainly paid off for Damian.

We could spend the next ten paragraphs describing this truck, but we would run out of superlatives, so we’ll let the accompanying photograph do the talking instead.

The awards could only go to the chosen few, but everyone who brought their truck along was a winner.

Award winners

Best Fleet – SRV Road Freight (Aaron Reid)
Best Log Truck – Stuart Moloney (Moloney Logging) – 2022 Kenworth T909
Best Specialised – Modern Towing & Salvage – 2022 Kenworth 610
Best Volvo – Vince Tropeano (SVT Logistics) – 2024 Volvo FH540
Best Western Star – Joel Leech (FourMile) – 1994 Western Sstar 4964F Heritage
Best Peterbilt – Matt Garcie (Freestones) – 1993 Peterbilt 379
Best Mack – Cameron Calleja – 1976 Mack R Model
Best Kenworth – Dylan Slater – 1995 Kenworth T600
Best of the Rest – Raymond Bedggood – Peterbilt
Best Tilt Tray – Blake Berwick-Griggs – 2014 Kenworth T359
Best Tray Truck – Ben Williams – 2021 Scania G450
Best Tipper – P&E Humphrey Haulage – 2023 Kenworth T909
Best Vintage – Aaron Smith – 1996 Kenworth K100G
Best Under 12 Months – Andrew James (Jamesys Transport) – 2023 Mack Superliner
People’s Choice – Trai Hildebrand (A Plus Towing) – 2023 Scannia R620 XT
Truck of the Show – Damien Reed – 2022 Kenworth T909
Runner Up Truck of the Show – Andrew James (Jamesys Transport) – 2023 Mack Superliner

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