When Big Rigs came across young driver Jake Laws at a pullover area along Townsville’s Port Access Road, he was on the roof of a trailer towed by his Kenworth K200.
So, an obvious question was to ask him: “What are you doing up there?”
Despite his depth of concentration on the task at hand, Laws was quick to answer as trucks and other vehicles whizzed past in both directions.
“I am placing tight straps on these empty bins as I have to travel along bumpy roads,” he said.
Aged just 28, by all normal standards this categorises Laws as one of the youngsters who are the future of the road transport industry.
Laws lives in the Northern Territory and works for Darwin Container Services and gets to travel far and wide.
He had transported excavator parts from Darwin to Townsville and his backload was empty containers, which are much lighter than full ones resulting in a safety requirement to fully restrain them.
A truckie for the past nine years, Laws has been with the Darwin company for the last three. Before that, Melbourne-born Laws had been based at Echuca in Victoria, where he worked for Ian Campbell Transport over several years before moving to Darwin.
“I love living at Darwin and it is a great place to live and work from,” he said.
But being from such an isolated place, Laws has to travel over roads which leave a lot to be desired and I asked him which was the worst.
“I would have to say the Flinders Highway between Cloncurry and Hughenden as it is rough at places and you have to be careful,” he said.
Laws was asked his opinion on whether there are enough rests areas for truckies in the country and considering his vast travels has a good knowledge.
“There are enough but not anywhere near the amount needed with facilities for our truck drivers,” he said.
When I questioned Laws about the AFL football team he supports, it was not at all surprising to hear it was a team from his native Victoria.
“Yep, I support the Essendon Bombers and hopefully they can win a premiership soon,” he said.
His favourite roadhouse is at Daly Waters in the NT which is also the popular choice of any other truckies.
“They serve up good food and I like stopping there,” he said.
One of his dislikes is caravan and car drivers who don’t respect truckies and also another which would be close to the heart of many drivers.
“Being away from family. This trip has been three weeks for me,” he said.
In conclusion Laws feels being a truckie is a great career choice for young people in the lucky country.
“I was going to do an apprenticeship, but it didn’t work out,” he said.