Truckie Profiles

It started with a dare: 7000km a week for high school sweethearts

For MC driver Liza van der Heide, 63, her foray into trucking all started with a dare, while visiting her husband at work.

“One of the other drivers dared me to get my truck licence, so that’s exactly what I did. Had it not been for that dare, then I probably wouldn’t be driving trucks now. I got my MC licence six months before my other half did, so we thought why not start doing road trains together. Now we’re known as the ‘A-team’ out on the road,” Liza explained.

Originally from Victoria, the couple met in high school. They had both grown up on dairy farms around the Colac area, before moving to Melbourne’s west. The couple wed and had three boys, then moved to Childers, Queensland, which they’ve called home for the past 30 years. “We moved for the warmer weather – and having three boys, we were looking for a few more acres too,” Liza explained.

Garry, 66, started driving trucks in his early twenties, first in Victoria and then in Queensland.

“When we first moved up north, we started doing small crops but soon realised we couldn’t survive on that, so Garry went back to the trucks,” said Liza.

They’ve now been doing two-up together for the past 18 years. Liza says it was David Weiss who gave them their first start on road trains. They were there for 12 months before moving to Westrans for three years. The couple was with Westrans up until the business was bought out by Toll. It was there that they earned their ‘A-team’ nickname. “Our boss would always brag about how well we worked together to other drivers and say ‘what a team’. Then other Westrans drivers started calling us the ‘A-team’ too,” said Liza.

“We get on really well together and try not to worry about things. If we have a tiff, one of us just hops in the bunk at the back and five hours later we’re all good,” she laughed.

For the last 14 years, the husband and wife duo have worked for Shaw’s Darwin Transport, doing the approx. 7000-kilometre return trip from Brisbane to Darwin each week and pulling triples from behind the wheel of a Kenworth T909.

“We do anything from fridge work to general freight, and then on the return trip we usually take back watermelons and mangoes when they’re in season,” Liza added.

“Shaw’s Darwin is a fantastic company to work with, I can’t fault them – otherwise we wouldn’t still be there after 14 years. We’ve got a four-year-old T909 and are about to get the keys to a brand new one.”

And it looks they’ve still got many more kilometres to go in their driving careers too. “It is go go go, and at times we’ll say we’ve had enough and think about retirement, but then you turn around and think, what else are you going to do? So we just keep trucking. Every week is different. We meet new people all the time and I think we’d miss all that.

“Once you hop in your truck, you’re pretty much your own boss. The other truckies on the road all know each other and help each other out. They’re all our friends. I think we’d miss them if we weren’t out there. If we have a week off, we always let each other know. It’s a really good run out there, nothing like the coast roads where nobody talks to each other.”

Liza adds that they like to stop at the Kynuna Roadhouse on their travels. “They’ve always looked after us ever since we started stopping there. We have tea there every time we pass through – twice a week. They’ve got great meals and coffee. Jeff and Jane are the owners. They’re really friendly people and will bend over backwards to try and help you out if they can.”

‘Truckin’ in the Outback’ is proudly supported by Loadshift, Australia’s largest freight marketplace for individuals and businesses seeking to buy and sell road transport services.

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