Getting a spray from a beer tragedy

AS SPY was enjoying a cold VB realising this would be the 20th birthday edition of Big Rigs, memories came flowing back - pardon the pun - of some humorous incidents he has encountered.

One of the most vivid memories was when Spy drove around a corner of a busy intersection and much to his horror saw a beer truck that had rolled over.

Fortunately the driver survived without any noticeable injury, however thousands of cans of beer had fallen onto the bitumen road.

Many of these cans were punctured and the precious amber fluid sprayed into the air, much to the chagrin of onlookers.

Many of these were genuine connoisseurs of the amber fluid and imbibe of a regular basis.

As Spy pulled out his camera to record this historic occasion the truck driver spotted him.

For a split second Spy thought he may be looking down the barrel of a well-placed knuckle sandwich, or punch, from the poor driver.

But much to his surprise the driver uttered some priceless words: "Holy hell, how can you take pics of this bloody beer being wasted, even if it is hot."

In the spirit of the moment both Spy and the truckie shared a quiet chuckle before pondering on just how much of the brew had been lost.

That was long before this column had started, but this writer was writing stories that I estimate may have been 10 years ago.

We both could not escape the fact that it had indeed been a tragic loss.

Emotional moment

BY FAR one of the most emotional moments was when Spy was sitting in the eatery of a large roadhouse as the tragedy of the floods unfolded early in 2011. It was raining cats and dogs outside and three big truckies were watching the television news when footage of floods devastating Grantham appeared.

One of the truckies burst out crying as he saw coverage of a house being washed away. He was friends of the people who owned the house. There was stunned silence.


IT WAS also sad when Spy visited Tasmania early this year to see how the logging industry is in serious decline. On previous visits Spy saw hundreds of trucks carrying logs getting around the Apple Isle.

Not this time. I could have counted the number of timber trucks on two hands.

Truckies who had been employed carrying logs had lost their jobs and had been forced to move to Victoria.

Owner-drivers and small fleet owners were hit with trucks laid up because of no work.

Long-serving employee

FOR the past 18 years Shirley Ollington has worked at the Detention River Roadhouse, which is between Burnie and Smithton in northern Tasmania.

For at least 10 years, truckies who stop off there have been picking up a copy of Big Rigs.

"Lots of truckies stop here

every day and Big Rigs has been popular over the years and still is," Shirley said when Big Rigs visited on December 2.

Shirley estimates that as many as 50 trucks a day stop at Detention River making it the busiest roadhouse beside the Bass Hwy.

"Sometimes a lot stop at once and we are always ready to give them good service. Other times they arrive one at a time and we know most of them," she said.

Spy also yarned to Shirley eight years ago at the roadhouse and it was good to catch up with her again.

Most truckies interviewed by Spy have a favourite roadhouse or two where they stop when on the road.

Employees such as Shirley are great for the industry.


Beyond blue

MANY truckies have told Spy they would contact Beyond Blue to try to get help for depression.

It is a sad fact that many Australians, including truckies, suffer from it.

Those who have taken the step to phone Beyond Blue or a similar organisation have told Spy that it definitely has helped.


Female truckies

OVER the years female truckies on the highways have been few and far between. In recent years, however, Spy has noticed an inc- rease in their number. Spy estim- ates about one in 50 drivers he has spoken to are of the fairer sex.

One positive also is that there certainly are a lot more younger male drivers aged in their 20s. Many operators are now giving young fellows a go at a career in the industry.


War zone

SPY has no desire to enter a war zone but it resembled one when he ventured into Bowen a few years back.

The city just off the Bruce Hwy was transformed into the 1940s era when the Japanese bombed Darwin and was part of the filming for the movie Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

There were many old trucks used including Blitz, Chrysler, Chev and Brinkleys as part of the bombing scenes.

A number of road transport industry workers were hired as extras for the film, which has since been seen around the world.

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