Friendly truckie Joe Lo-Monaco, 52, is from a well-respected family with strong connections to the road transport industry at Silkwood in North Queensland.
These days Lo-Monaco drives a 2005 Freightliner for Townsville company Tropos Excavations.
“I learnt to drive from my dad Norman Lo-Monaco who was a truck driver for many decades. In 2000 we had a party for him to celebrate his 50 years in the industry. But he passed away a few years back. One of my treasured memories is a painting of his transport workshop in Silkwood,” Lo-Monaco said.
Lo-Monaco was carrying dirt for the upgrade to the Bruce Highway between Townsville and Ayr.
“I have been interested in trucks since age 15 and it was dad who got me into driving,” he said.
Lo-Monaco is of French and Italian descent and likes stopping at two roadhouses during his travels. “They are the Alligator Creek Roadhouse and the new one at Mt Elliott Springs. Both have good food,” he said.
The worst road Lo-Monaco nominated is parts of the Flinders Highway with an emphasis on the 100km Hughenden to Richmond stretch.
“It is up and down and very bumpy,” he said.
The first truck Lo-Monaco drove was a K Model International with a Joey Box.
Lo-Monaco barracks for the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL and hopes they can charge up the ladder in 2020.
Lo-Monaco is very passionate about Silkwood town which is 30km south of Innisfail and just off the Bruce Highway.
On his phone Lo-Monaco had pics with fond memories of his time there and of his dad.
I’ve done a lot of stories and photos in Silkwood many years ago, so we had lots to talk about in the parking area when we caught up at BP Cluden – especially about an old newsagent named Jack Abraham who had ducks, chooks, cats and a giant dog living in the shop.
It was in Silkwood’s main street, and despite often being named as Australia’s dirtiest shop in news reports, the 300-strong local population supported it.
Truck drivers travelling the Bruce Highway would detour into Silkwood to buy a paper, a cold drink and have a yarn to Jack who was also a JP.
Back in 1990 when Jack was aged 81 he told me that scores of kittens and chickens had been born in the shop.
We could recall that when the train which travelled between cairns and Townsville would pass there, the fowls and ducks would wander out of the shop.
They would gather beside the railway line and staff in the railway griddle car would throw out scraps for them.
“Yes I remember that well and he died a long time ago but locals still talk about him,” Lo-Monaco said.
Silkwood also had Australia’s smallest bank in the main street which could only fit three customers inside.
“The bank no longer operates but the building is still there,” he said.