Dangerous goods driver Brodie Smith, 26, says he’s living his dream, carting into mine sites across the eastern seaboard and Northern Territory.
Growing up, he was a truck-mad kid and four years ago moved from South Australia to Gracemere, Queensland, to get into the big rigs. “If you want to drive big gear, that’s where you go, to Queensland, it’s the gateway to everything,” he said.
Smith began working with trucks when he was very young, starting a diesel mechanic apprenticeship when he was in Year 8. “My background is mechanical. I wasn’t even 18 when I finished my apprenticeship. I started out working on trucks and fell in love with them. I was driving trucks around the yard and it became an obsession. I got my licence as soon as I was old enough,” he said.
“I moved here because the work I wanted to do was up here – this is what I can see myself doing long-term. I love my job and think it’s unlike any other truck driving job out there. I’ve done general freight; I’ve done dirt work. On the dangerous goods side, there’s a lot of responsibility but it’s very rewarding when you come home and know you’ve done a great job.”
Smith works for Crawfords Freightlines and drives a Western Star 4900. He had contracted for the business on and off for around two years, before coming on board five months ago.
“I couldn’t ask for a better working environment. It’s a big company but it doesn’t feel like you’re working in a big company. Everyone is treated with respect and as they should be, you’re not just a number,” he said.
Smith’s work takes him across Queensland, and into the Northern Territory, NSW and Victoria. “I love travelling into the NT, it’s something else up there,” added Smith. “I love the freedom and the places you get to see – the amount of travelling you get to do in places you never think you would go to in this lifetime. There’s always a bit of excitement when you get to go to a new place, and it never ceases to amaze me. I’m not interested in going overseas, there’s so much here in Australia to see.”
Delivering into mine sites, many of the roads Smith frequents are rough. “A lot of the roads we drive on are real rough, they’re over-used and underworked. We do a lot of stuff into Moranbah, and a lot of the roads running into there are pretty rough – they’re bitumen but I’ve driven on better dirt roads.
“The majority of mine sites I go into are all dirt. One of the ones we do here is 80 kilometres of dirt. It’s two hours on a good run but can be up to five hours depending on the condition. Then there’s a place we go into in the NT. It’s 180 kilometres of dirt and it can be brutal, especially if it’s wet.”
The job is long days, and it can be hard on your body both physically and mentally, yet Smith wouldn’t have it any other way. “You spend a lot of your time on the road and then spend one day a week at home if you’re lucky. I live in Queensland and all my family lives in SA. It’s a pretty big commitment to go and see them, so I only get to see them twice a year at most. Covid has made that even harder,” Smith explained.
Smith also has a two-year-old daughter who lives in Brisbane, some eight hours away. Over Christmas, he picked her up and headed home to catch up with the family for a well-deserved month-long break. “The last time I saw my daughter was Easter and the family was very excited to see her too.”
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