Outback, Truck driver, Truckie Profiles

Outback truckie’s varied roles take another adventurous turn

For Colin Reid, 60, his truck driving roles have been as diverse as the terrain he’s travelled.

Originally from Melbourne, he spent a few years moving between Darwin and Queensland, before eventually settling on Townsville, which he now calls home.

Colin joined Townsville-based operator Morgan Transport Group about 18 months ago and says the job has been a perfect fit.

From behind the wheel of a Kenworth T909, Colin can usually be found heading as far south as Mackay, up to Mossman, out west to Mt Isa and even into the Northern Territory, carrying general freight into supermarkets as well as mine sites.

Though recently he was given an opportunity to head away to Cobar, delivering containers from mine to port. Big Rigs spoke with Colin as he was heading into the mine, on a stint that will see him based at the outback mining town for up to six weeks.

A spectacular shot of the Kenworth T909. Image: Colin Reid

“It’s been about three and a half weeks on this job so far, and it’ll probably go until the end of June,” he said.

“I’ll have anything from a triple road train, a double road train, a B-double or a single – that’s the versatility of it.”

Colin originally got into trucks when he was 18. “I just wanted a job and then it got bigger and bigger,” he said. “I did rigids for 10 or more years, then started in the banana backs and conventional trucks, and from there I went on to tilt trays, which had only just started coming out back then.”

Colin didn’t grow up around trucks. He explained that he was raised by his adoptive parents, who worked in other fields. As an adult though, he made an interesting discovery. “I didn’t know this but my biological father was actually an interstate truck driver. I didn’t meet him until I was about 23 or 24. To turn around and find out that he drove trucks was incredible,” he said.

Colin admitted that in his early days in trucking, he was hesitant to go into HC work “because I knew if I did, I’d end up doing interstate. And that’s what I did. As soon as I got my HC, I started doing interstate and I haven’t looked back.”

Colin has been driving trucks throughout his entire working life – apart from a brief break.

He says Morgan Transport Group is a great company to work for. Image: Colin Reid

As he explained, “Back when we were still living in Melbourne, I came home one night and said to the wife, I want to get my own truck. She said, ‘Well I want to get my own pub!’ So we thought, let’s do that instead.”

The couple purchased the Farmer’s Arms Hotel in Benalla, in north eastern Victoria and ran it for three and a half years, before deciding the time was right for a sea change.

They moved to Darwin, where Colin got a job driving road trains. “From 2015, we went back and forth a couple of times until we settled in Townsville in 2017,” he said.

He also revealed that they did make one failed attempt to return to Melbourne in the process too. “Our families are all down in Melbourne, so we thought we’d go back. We got in the caravan and got as far down as Hervey Bay. It was cold and pissing down and I said, you know what, we’re going back to Townsville!” laughed Colin.

And his wife agreed. “She said I know our family is down there but we can visit – it’s just too damn cold!”

Upon moving to Townsville, Colin secured a job doing B-double refrigerated work across the east coast and into Adelaide.

A proud Colin with his “little shadow”, 10-year-old grandson Cooper Reid. Image: Colin Reid

“Then I got sick of being away from home so much – I’m starting to get on a bit in age too. I gave up the fridge work and that’s when I started working with Morgan’s. The older I get, the more I want to be home with the family. My daughter and her 10-year-old son live with us too, so being able to see them every time I come home is fantastic.”

With that being said, he still doesn’t mind doing the occasional long stint away, so long as it’s not too often.

“Yes I’m away at the moment, but I know this ain’t forever, I’m just helping out the boss with this particular job in Cobar. When you get to go away, you realise how much you miss it.

“While I’m down in Cobar, I’m staying in a mine camp, so we get fed breakfast, pick up our lunch and in the morning there are six different choices of dinner to choose from. The lodge is fantastic there. It’s run by a husband and wife and a couple of their kids as well. I haven’t had a bad meal yet!”

And that’s been a great fit for Colin who’s been focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, after losing over 30kg. “I can really feel the difference now,” he said.

“I’m still on my diet, still doing the right things. For the last few months or more – when I’m back on the usual runs – I’ve been bringing my own food in the truck.

“It’s hard sometimes to find healthy options when you’re out on the road.

“Back when I used to do oversize and car carriers over to the west, there were times where nothing was open. Now it’s worse. At some places, all you can get is a meat pie.

“So before I leave, I look at what I need: I take a slab of water, grab some small meals and use the microwave in the truck. But I’m living like a king over here in Cobar at the moment!”

As much as he’s enjoying the experience, Colin is also looking forward to being back home with his loved ones.

“When I get home I’ll be back on overnights, so I’ll be able to have dinner with the family before heading out to work,” he said.

“Even when I’m running out west in Mt Isa, you’re only gone overnight. Or if it’s the Territory, you might have a few nights away.”

Colin says Morgan Transport Group, which is run by husband and wife team Dave and Kelly Morgan, has been a really good fit. “It’s a fantastic company to work for,” he said. “I’m really enjoying it.”

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