Veteran outback truckie Matt Langley, 53, originally moved to Darwin to pursue a desire to drive road trains.
Langley grew up in Kyabram, Victoria, where his father drove milk tankers. “When I was a young fella I would get in the trucks with Dad. I was always fascinated by trucks and machines,” he said.
After working in the mines in Kalgoorlie, Langley moved to Darwin in 1990, when he was 21. “I already had a truck licence and I wanted to drive the bigger trucks, so I moved up north and fell in love with it. Trucking was something I really wanted to do and at that age it was hard to get into.”
Initially it was local work, but he moved into long distance pretty quickly. “I was thrown straight in the deep end and have driven road trains ever since. It’s usually triples, but sometimes I do quad work too,” Langley said.
And despite a six-year stint in Queensland, where he worked for Emerald Carrying Company, the lure of the NT drove him back. “I moved to the east but I missed the Territory too much. Once you’ve been in the Territory, it’s hard to leave. Everyone always comes back.
“I’ve driven down south and over the east coast and I hate the traffic. I love going remote.”
Langley has worked for Direct Haul for the past five and a half years, delivering fuel to some of the most remote locations in the NT and WA, from behind the wheel of a 2019 Mack Titan.
“It’s a lot of bush work, a lot of dirt roads. I deliver diesel, avgas and petrol to remote communities, cattle stations, power stations and roadhouses. Being off-road so much really knocks the truck about but the Mack is pretty comfortable and goes pretty well,” he said.
It’s not uncommon for Langley to be on a 5000km round trip, travelling on some of the most unforgiving roads. He rates the Tanami and Sandover Highway as some of the toughest to get along. “They’re very rough and corrugated. On many of these roads, you’re only doing 20km/h,” added Langley.
Though the roads and the heat can pose quite the challenge, Langley says he enjoys the solitude the job brings. “It’s a good gig and you don’t have to deal with anyone. Most of the time I’m completely on my own. The company I work for doesn’t put any pressure on you. We’re on pretty tough runs, so you get home when you get home. Direct Haul is great to work for, they really look after their drivers and have very well maintained equipment – it’s got to be when you’re doing remote work.
“There’s a lot of times we’re working in mid 40s heat. You’ve just got to know your limitations. I got pretty badly heat struck last year. It was hot and really humid so I just had to sit in the air con for a few hours to cool down.
“I’ve also broken down in the middle of nowhere and that can be a two or three day affair. Usually though you can get going and fix it yourself. The Direct Haul trucks are pretty well set up for that sort of thing. We’ve got man-down alarms and are always contactable.”
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