Aaaaaahhhhhh bumnuts, bacon, toast and coffee, the breakfast of champions. Nothing betting for a good start to a long day, if you think there is then clearly you are wrong and I feel sorry for you! Actually I don’t really, I don’t care what you eat for breakfast, truth is what we have is easy, means we don’t have to carry heaps of stuff and every one can cook it without too much issue.
Sure we could treat these trips like a gourmet camping trip something like what those “special” people might call “Glamping” because they are too posh to go into the bush and camp, but for us it’s all about easy. We could all carry separate boxes of cereal, sugar, fruit etc and anyone is welcome to do so but there is no signal cereal out there that everyone can agree on and with ten of us taking a box each I’m sure you can see that it’s a pain in the arse. Whereas our breakfast of champions seems to satisfy everyone and be liked by everyone. Go figure!
Anyway where was I? Oh yeah I got lost again, not a good thing for a long haul truck driver is it? Lucky I have that ute in front of me with the big sign and the flashing lights on the roof!
Recap: Just out of Corefeldy, truck stop, off road, over night stay, sleep, start day, breakfast, check load, get on road, drive, stop sleep, rinse, repeat. Oh I got ahead of myself.
Over breakfast we were discussing the day ahead, our plan A was to get to Grenstein, which was a small town just over a hundred kilometres from where we were. You might think that a hundred kilometres in a day was a rather short distance especially given that we’d left the city behind and were well and truly in the regional heartland of the country, but it’s ok to be wrong…again! I’m only kidding you can’t be expected to understand everything about heavy haulage yet, not like us long winded and experienced steering wheel attendants.
There was actually three major obstacles we had to overcome before the day was out, on paper they don’t look quiet as daunting as they are but I/we wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly if we didn’t at least consider them as potential problems.
First and foremost our problem was that we were in the regional heartland and that meant and end to relatively well maintained highways and more often than not an end to roads with dual carriageways. From Corefeldy onwards it was pretty much all highways but those highways dropped down to a lane each way because they didn’t need to be any wider. There was semi regular “overtaking” lanes in which we could move over and give some traffic a chance to pass but for long stretches we’d be blocking the entire road.
It’s not as dangerous as it sounds, we don’t just drive up the road and hope oncoming vehicles stop or go bush to get around us, although that would be fun, we do actually have all rights and permissions to stop traffic so we can pass. This is where our lead pilot actually starts earning his keep because he will travel up to three kilometres ahead of us with his lights flashing and driving in the middle of the road. He will flag down drivers to stop, use the radio to call truck drivers and if needed stop in the path to prevent people from moving.
We’ve all had some hairy times driving the pilot like that, when some numpty fuckwit has come barrelling down the road at maximum speed, or faster, and not realised their path was blocked and they needed to take action. Thankfully no one has ever killed themselves but there has been some very lucky escapes, we’ve also never had a ute, truck or load damaged by someone ignoring the pilot completely so we must be doing something right!
In most cases the front pilot keeps moving once they’d moved the traffic right over onto the shoulder. Believe it or not ninety nine percent of drivers are sensible and when they are told to pull over because there is a large load coming they stay there until we’ve passed. It’s the one percent we have to keep our eyes out for because in true asshat tradition those one percent wait until the pilot is out of sight before they get too impatient to wait.
The other problem we’d come across before day’s end was townships. We had of course planned this trip down to a tee, planned every road, every stop, we’d even scouted the roads for the entire trip, and not just using Google maps which is often years out of date in regional areas of this country, we’d driven them. We’d not only chosen a path the roads corporation was happy with we’d chosen roads that we were happy, in places we’d even chose to travel substantial distances to go around difficult spots rather than risk being stuck. But even with all that planning we could not avoid some townships.
Negotiating townships was of course slow, sometimes painfully slow but the biggest issue was cornering. Like when we came out of the suburbs there was kerbs, nature strips, even roundabouts, about the only thing we didn’t have to tackle in small towns was traffic lights and speed humps. With a load like we had we’d prefer to detour fifty kilometres than tackle a road with speed humps on it, as for traffic lights we might get right or way through those but too many intersection even in regional areas use overhanging gantry type traffic lights these days and our load just wont go under them.
So while our day ahead was relatively short by distance it was still going to be a full day and all things going well we wouldn’t be off the road at Grenstein until at least 3pm. We did how ever have an open window curfew until 5pm.
With breakfast, clean up and all our checks done we were ready to hit the road before our 7am window and the trucks sat idling waiting for our curfew to be lifted.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.