Looking back, Tony Fulton saw the signs he was ready for a change long before the much-publicised Pacific Motorway blockade in protest of mandated vaccinations last August.
Fulton, who still boasts the largest social media following in the industry on his popular Facebook page Tones Truckin’ Stories, said the pressures of driving had been starting to take a toll for months.
After two weeks of reflection off the road while figuring out his next move, Fulton said the decision to step away from driving was an easy one in the end.
“I had been checking myself for at least 12-18 months prior because as we know the transport industry is a very difficult job to begin with,” said Fulton.
“A lot of people don’t realise the sacrifices that truck drivers make for weeks, and even decades on end, being away from home for 6-7 days and a fortnight at a time and what they miss out on with families and that sort of stuff.
“So, what I came to the conclusion in the end was they went and made a hard job too hard, in a sense, and I think a lot of people were like that.”
“For the previous 12 months I probably wasn’t the man I once was. I was probably a lot angrier, and had a lot of anxiety while doing the job over what was happening with the country.
“Every man has a breaking point and by the time the final [vax] mandate came in, I knew I didn’t want to be part of that anymore.”
Today, a far more relaxed Fulton and his famous four-legged sidekick Puppies have handed over the keys to the K200 they called home for so many years, for new adventures based on an idyllic acre of a family farm in Victoria.
Fulton’s learning to grow his own vegetables, wheat, and grass, and working on all those other little things he never had the chance to do while living out of a truck cab. Just don’t call him a farmer, not yet anyway.
He reserves that honour for the many men and women he’s helping in a new role as a volunteer ambassador for BEEFitUP Australia, a grass-roots charity organisation that promotes products and services in farming communities.
“It’s very fulfilling and I really enjoy going around to the farming communities and helping them try and get more business through the door.”
“Through my hand being forced, it’s become one of the best decisions I’ve made for my personal life.”
Fulton’s recent pandemic treechange also means he has more time to help grow TruckWiz, the popular truckies’ navigational app he co-founded with truckie mate Arana McDonald.
Built by Australian truck drivers specifically for truckies, already TruckWiz stands out from its rivals on almost every level.
Just key in your truck profile – be it a rigid, semi, or B-double [test version] – and away you go.
Bridge strikes and U-turns are banished forever, as is wasted fuel for taking longer than you need to get to a job.
“It’s definitely got me out of the crapper a fair bit, and come up with routes that made me think, ‘Oh shit, that’s a lot easier and quicker than the way I’d been going for the last 10 years’.
“We had one driver come back and say that after just a week of using it, the savings in diesel it gave him had paid for the annual subscription.”
One of the most exciting new features for Fulton is the app’s ability to overlay job information and maps specific to your needs.
Customised map-markers can contain all manner of relevant information relevant to a truckie’s day, which also takes a lot of pressure off those back at the fleet’s office.
“People in the industry have been going out of their way to give us feedback, which is just so important – it’s been overwhelming at times.
“There are a lot of good people in the industry and that’s why we’ve done it, to make it easier for the truck drivers out there because we know how bloody hard it is.”
To give TruckWiz a try, use coupon code BIUA at truckwiz.co to reduce the price from $129 to $100, with $10 of that saving being donated to the BEEFitUP Australia charity.