G and S Transport were in my focus. Beautiful tipper trucks that run out to the most remote gold mine in Australia, The Granites. Catching up with John and Frank Bilato was amazing. Two people who were as passionate about living life to the fullest as I was. Learning about their business gave me goose bumps.
John said, “These days, people are so focused on the destination and don’t pay any attention to the journey”. They are a family run business with family morals and will be the richest men in the old folks home when they end up there as John said. Forget the money we make, we will have a story to tell.
John sent me on my way with a G and S Shirt and hat….. I am going to need another trailer just for all the shirts, hats and stubby holders I get given from the truck companies as I make my way through this project!
The ABC got wind that I was in town and I was ushered around to the studio to do a story with them about the progress on THE DRIVER and the local companies involved. Again my comment about hitch hiking my way around the country made the whites in people’s eyes get wider!
Little did I know but today was going to be a day of firsts. Major firsts! I got to drive a road train for the first time.
Yep that’s right, three trailers. And what’s more, it was a BRUTE C501. A big boys toy! On the road north to Katherine where I needed to be to catch a ride to Kunanurra, I started my truck driving career….. long term thinking.
It takes two years to get your licence and if I start now, then by the time the truck book is out and I’ve stopped signing my autograph, I will be ready to drive some big gear!
So my first lesson consisted of driving at 100km an hour, believe it or not, this is the easy part! And I learnt to fall on and off the side of the road so I didn’t wrench the truck back on and overturn it if it happened accidentally when I was driving. It was a pretty scary feeling. Sort of like being sucked sideways. But when you know you have 50 or so meters of truck behind you it makes it all the more scary.
SWEATY PALMS! And I think every muscle in my body was shaking.
The second day I learnt to change gears. But I learnt the old fashioned way, double clutching. As this is what I would have to show when I finally go for my licence. A few amateur videos later and we had some solid evidence of my new skill! (Check them out on my Facebook page if you haven't seen them already - https://www.facebook.com/722887127829399/videos/vb.722887127829399/835671809884263/?type=2&theater).
Every time I got into reception in a town on the way to Katherine, I was frantically trying to find a ride to Kununurra. You wouldn’t read about it, but of the companies I called, not a single truck was going through! I said to Steve, I will just jump on the two way when I get into town and see if I can get someone on line heading that way.
I made it to Katherine with 15 minutes to spare and found a truck heading west. And a flash truck at that. I showed Steve in the door and said, ‘I don’t think I will be riding with you again Steve, get a load of this! An immaculately kept Western Star!’.
I quickly moved my gear from one truck to the next, but had to leave the ladder behind as there was not enough room. Kathy, a ringer who was working on a station on the Barkley, spotted me and came over to say hi. I couldn’t talk much as I was in a rush, but I had a quick chat and said, ‘say hi to that guy over there’, he’s more famous than me as I jumped in the truck and headed off.
I chatted to Sooty for a few hours then nodded off to sleep. This photographer was burning the candle at both ends big time! I made it into Kunanurra at 2am and Jo was there to pick me up. - An amazing husband and wife couple that will be a story for the next blog post.