Craig Wright received an early Christmas gift and a complete surprise heading into the new year when told by his boss Nick Roberts that he would be the driver of a brand-new Western Star 6900.
Roberts and his wife Alicyn run rural and outback company NIX Freight which is based at Major’s Creek about 50km from Townsville.
The company took delivery of the flashy Western Star in December and it was picked up by Wright who was happy as a pig in mud when he advised Big Rigs.
Wright was happy to talk about it when he spoke to Big Rigs after cruising up a street in the Townsville suburb of Cranbrook.
Heads had turned when he drove the truck up sleepy Louise Street after taking delivery about noon.
The temperature was high at around 38-degrees and not surprisingly we conducted the interview indoors with the air conditioning struggling to keep the room cool.
Later on, we adjourned to the outside to snap pics of Wright and the truck. It may have been in the suburb of a major city but will soon be a common sight in the outback including destinations in remote parts of Queensland, the NT and WA.
“I was so happy to be given the Western Star and used to drive an old orange coloured 1999 model Western Star and this is a beautiful truck which I will be driving into the Northern Territory and Western Australia carrying general and cattle supplement,” Wright said.
The Western Star is powered by a 600hp Cummins motor with an 18-speed gearbox and Wright just adores it.
“It has much more room inside and is so comfortable and has a huge sleeper box. Having a snooze in it is a wonderful experience,” Wright said.
The 51-year-old Wright has worked for NIX Freight for almost three years and got involved with the “truck bug” from a young age.
“I used to be a passenger in trucks such as a B Model Mack and Volvo driven by my uncle Doug and grandfather William Kyte around Brisbane,” he said.
Wright also enjoys being mentored by Roberts who is well known in the industry and that is not surprising.
Three years ago, highly respected Roberts was inducted into the Truckies’ Hall of Fame around the time he celebrated his 70th birthday in style.
More than 50 guests which included family and friends from the road transport industry wished Nick “Many Happy Returns of the Day” at his Major’s Creek property Y-Worrie.
That is where NIX Freight’s workshop is and where the company also has four other Western Stars and an excellent well-equipped workshop.
Roberts said the new Star replaced the 2017 Mack Titan which was bought back by WTG due to contamination found in the motor after causing NIX freight a lot of grief over its time on the road.
NIX Freight employs five drivers, a full-time mechanic, two office staff with Roberts at the helm co-ordinating and organising.
Wright who has been employed as a truckie or in mining all of his working life said NIX Freight was great to work for.
“It is a real family atmosphere and Nick and his missus treat you really well,” he said.
Roberts was also glowing in his praise of Wright. “He is a very dedicated driver,” Roberts said.
The Western Star had its ‘maiden voyage’ on December 13 into the NT carrying molasses for the feed mills along with fertiliser and dog food.
On his travels so far, Wright said he enjoyed stopping at the Dunmurra Roadhouse in the NT.
“The staff are great and the steaks are huge, especially the sirloins. You really feel welcome. I get into WA to places such as Kununurra,” he said.
As for the worst road he travels on, Wright quickly nominated the 100km long stretch of the western Queensland Flinders highway between Hughenden and Richmond.
“It is very rough and I slow down to 25km per hour on the Scrubby Creek section. Someone is going to do an axle on that part,” he said.
His hobbies are fishing with his grandchildren and playing golf at the Rowes Bay Club in Townsville.
“I am not much good at golf and fish local creeks if I get time,” he said.
Wright said that being away from home a lot on his trips made him realise just how wonderful and special his family are.
“My missus supports me so much and I am very happy – that means when I am driving on the road it is so good to know that,” he said.
Covid-19 has had some effect on Wright in his travels through two states and the NT.
“It can be a pain getting across the borders but if you have the correct paperwork it is generally okay. The border police are okay,” he said.
Wright can’t wait for the NRL season start in March and hopes his team the Parramatta Eels do well.