As the daughter of a truckie, Samantha Haynes (32) has been around trucks her whole life – and she’s put in the hard yards to get to where she wants to be.
Based in Brisbane, Haynes has been steering trucks since 2015, starting her current gig with refrigerated transport business Hernes Freight Service in October 2020.
“My Dad is a truck driver. He’s been one my whole life. He drives a cane truck, picking up wood for Rose Gum Haulage. Growing up, he would pick me up and take me for a ride in the truck after school,” said Haynes, who can now be found driving a bright and bold Hernes 540hp Volvo Globetrotter hooked up to a refrigerated semi.
Her truck driving career began in Rockhampton, driving a site tipper for post-cyclone roadworks.
“I left there and moved back to Brisbane and drove a rigid, delivering alcohol to cruise ships in an eight-pallet truck,” she said.
“Then I went to Karreman in 2017 and started in eight-wheelers. I worked hard and wanted to go bigger and get into truck and dogs, so I’d get in a truck and train after work to learn with another driver. Sometimes I’d spend the whole week with them. I put in about 40 hours of training with other drivers.”
Fast forward to now and she’s landed a great job with a company that treats her well. Haynes does interstate work for Hernes, transporting refrigerated goods from Brisbane to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
She’s one of only two female drivers there. Both Haynes and Corrina Riley (44) joined the company just last year.
Riley started with Hernes a few months earlier, in June, travelling locally in everything from a rigid to a B-double.
“I moved to Brisbane three years ago when my son turned seven to follow my passion of truck driving. Seeing the Hernes’ trucks driving around, I knew that’s where I wanted to be so I went for it. We had 40 acres and all the animals you could ever want,” but she decided to pack it all up to follow her dream.
Riley got into trucks through her ex-husband, who drove road trains. “He was a truckie and driving this great big road train with three trailers – and that was the very first truck I learned to drive in.”
Though there were no female truckies at Hernes in Brisbane at the time, Riley was determined.
“I used to see their trucks going up and down the highway. They keep them really clean and shiny and they sound amazing. I love the sound of a truck. When I started last year, it was in the middle of COVID – I pestered them for a job and I think they were sick of hearing from me,” she laughed.
“I didn’t have a lot of experience on paper and it was really hard to find someone that would give me a go.
“I met the driver trainer and got to take him for a drive in the truck because he wanted to see how well I could drive. I said I’d work two weeks for free and if I was any good they could hire me, but he said there was no need, you’ve got it. He was pretty impressed.
“Now I drive everything around town and load them up with the forklift or pallet jack for the interstaters or unload them when they get in.
“I’m out there with the big boys – it’s so much fun. I’m also a single mum and Hernes works around me and my son. It’s really family oriented and such a good company to work for.”
Riley said that while she was the first local female driver at Hernes, Haynes is among the first doing the interstate runs.
Haynes explained, “My mate was already working at Hernes and he would speak about the company all the time. He said there was a good opportunity to get into it. I thought I’d throw myself in and it’s been nothing but a positive experience. Everywhere I go to load up, everyone is always there to help.”
With both of these truckies enjoying life on the road, Haynes added that she’d love to see more women do the same. “I want girls to know that’s it’s not so bad on the road. I was scared to start with and it’s ended up being the best thing I’ve ever done. You get to meet so many nice people. I’d love to see more women on the road,” she said.
And, her advice for anyone considering a career in trucking: “Just get in and do it.”
Both Haynes and Riley have also been nominated in the Driver of the Year category of the Women in Trucking Australia Ltd’s awards, which are being held to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8.