Because we don’t generally use the radios for banter, even the closed comms radio, by the time we got to our rest stop which was six kilometres east of Corefeldy everyone had something to say about Mudflap.
Mudflap wasn’t the name he wanted to be known by it was the name the TV viewing public had given him because his name was Murray Bap. He was one of about half a dozen drivers that took part in a show called Truckin’ Australia, a reality show about, well about trucking in Australia. Mudflap took reality to the nth degree and acted like the typical cowboy truck driver so many people complain about. Damaged loads, damaged trucks, driving way too fast for the conditions then blaming everyone else for what happened, turning up for a load a day late and blaming the client for finding another driver, Mudflap did it all, so much so that many thought he was a set up for ratings drama. The guy alone probably put public perception of truck drivers in this country back twenty years in one season of having a camera in his truck and as you can see from our encounter they guy really was a tool, so it was no surprise everyone had something to say about him.
While we were all a bit pissed off with Mudflap’s blatant disregard for the safety of everyone around him, and himself, although I’m not sure too many people care about Mudflap’s well being other than himself, we were in high spirits and joking around a bit. Questions like “How close did that dickhead come to losing it?” made way for “How does a wanker like that actually keep his truck on the road?” and “If only we still had the police escort,” made way for “We’ll probably see him parked up the road with the back axle hanging off the truck tomorrow.”
Believe it or not it was a good wind down from a long evening of driving. Because any one of us could be required to drive the trucks at any given time a zero BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) was adhered to by all of us when we were on the road. So while some people might enjoy winding down with a few beers it wasn’t something we did so a chit chat about a dickhead reality TV truck drivers was worth it.
Corefeldy was chosen as our nightly stop because it was one of the few places that had a relatively flat open area beside the highway that gave us enough room to be well clear of the traffic. Although our driving hours would have let us go further the next possible place we could pull this load over was more than 150 kilometres further on and our permits gave us a 10pm curfew. All in all it suited us well because from Corefeldy we were back on day shift driving and getting off the road as early as we did gave us enough rest time over night to drive a full ten hours the following day.
The Corefeldy rest stop was good for us for several reasons. Firstly it allowed us to get the entire load more than a hundred metres off the road which meant by regulations and rules we could turn off all the safety beacons, flashing lights and flood lights. But secondly it also meant we didn’t need a complete security watch. We still had two guys stay awake and watch the load because it was such an expensive load but if they fell asleep we weren’t breaking our regulations and permits.
On the road we were pretty self sufficient because despite our trip being planned out to the minute there was always the potential for things to go wrong. Just because we had all our rest stops planned out didn’t mean we didn’t have contingency plans in place. If you’ve seen any of these reality shows you could be excused for thinking that on such a big haul when things go wrong it’s all screaming and fighting to get to a rest point. But in reality there is no voice over man building suspense, telling viewers that we’ve only got two hours left to make a four hour trip, or we’ve lost three wheels and the load is going to fall off the truck. The truth is if we are running late, we’ve got alternate places we can aim to reach, if we have a break down, we’ve got alternate plans to make sure we aren’t parked on the side of the road. It’s common sense, but doesn’t make for good TV like Mudflap does.
By the time we’d done all we needed to with the load and the rigs, cooked ourselves some food and settled ourselves down for the night it was 11:05pm. Stan and Jimmy drew the short straws for the night watch and although I did just suggest they may nod off, they started the shift with the best intentions. For the rest of us it was off to the land of nod because we’d all be up 5:30am with the aim to hit the bitumen by 7am when our curfew was lifted.
In case you are interested sleeping on the road is a swap and change affair each night, the only two beds that remain claimed at all times in the lower bunks in each truck which the driver claims. The rest of the team have the choice of the tops bunks in either truck tractor or sleeping in the back of the utes. It was one of the reasons we bought such big dual cab utes, the rear tubs were long enough to sleep in and easy enough to cover from the weather. Cosy was a good description for it but honestly it’s not that bad…says the guy who always has his own comfy bed to sleep in.
At 5:30am the following morning it was bumnuts, bacon, toast and coffee on the camp stove for breakfast. Oh do I have to explain that as well? Bumnuts: They come out of a chook’s bum and they are shaped like nuts. Breakfast is a bit of a DIY affair, someone may offer to cook for someone else, or even for everyone one but we never have a specific roster, sounds unorganised but it works for us.
While we ate we discussed the day ahead. There was several hairy bits that would see our average speed drop below thirty kilometres per hour so we only had just over a hundred kilometres planned for the day.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.