Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thirsty reading! Decent collection of anecdotes and essays, 8 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Best Australian Trucking Stories (Paperback)
Three and a half stars.

A lively and informative collection of tales and essays on the subject of trucking down under. With humour and pathos, these stories will give you a vivid picture of life on the (mainly) dry and dusty roads of the Aussie outback. From the earliest days of the 1930s trailblazing and World War Two era Government Road-train, through to the mega-logistics of the 58 truck U2 '360 Degree' tour in 2010 and beyond, this is a pretty comprehensive look at what it means to live a life behind a wheel of these transport beasts.

I particularly enjoyed Ray '[The Nullarbor Kid]' Gilleland's account of his earliest crossings of the fierce Nullarbor Plain in the 1950s. A vast treeless desert (hence the name!) that spans the gap between the rudimentary civilisations on the edges of Western and South Australia, the plain was no place to be if you weren't the self-reliant type:

...Things like scorpions and snakes worried me most. If a death adder bit you, you were a goner. You would be dead long before the next traveller who ventured over the east-west track found you.

Out of the truck I always wore Leathernecks. They were like sixteenth century pirate boots that came up to the knees and had a folded top. The Death Adder was well camouflaged and had a habit of lying still and striking directly at the ankles. I felt fairly safe in my boots but I constantly surveyed the ground around me when out of the truck, and I always carried an old 1911 model Colt .45 pistol. If you had come across me out there back then you would have seen a tall, slim young man, brown from the sun and wearing a battered old Stetson hat and a pair of swimming trunks, with a pistol hanging from his waist, walking around in pirate boots. It was quite a sight!

Liz Martin's chapter on the pioneering AEC Government Road-train (operating on little more than dirt tracks between Adelaide, across the dry interior via Alice Springs, to Darwin) was pretty staggering in terms of the hardships faced by the tough teams of drivers manning the usually three trailered vehicles.

The wet season would though play havoc with the waterways of the north. Tracks that had been blazed the year before were totally washed out and often the drivers and the offsiders would have to walk for kilometres up and down the creeks looking for a suitable place to cross, up to six times a day:

When there were four trailers the road often had to be repaired several times during the process as the weight of the trailers caused them to bog. Sometimes, massive tree trunks and other river debris had to be sawn up and moved out of the way of the path of the best crossing. Drivers always carried a supply of dynamite in case an obstacle had to be cleared or the road had to be blasted through. Some drivers said they felt like blowing up the truck instead of the obstacle.

This collection was pretty much what I expected and hoped it would be - fun, interesting and dusty! Thirsty reading!
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