Jeff, Sue shifting to lower gear
Kermies Q&A: This week Graham 'Kermie' Harsant talks to Jeff and Sue Lowe who hail from Inverell, NSW.
Kermie: What do you do up there mate?
Jeff: Drive trucks.
Kermie: I hope you can enlarge on that a bit more or this will be the shortest Q&A I've ever done. Employee, owner driver or do you have a fleet?
Jeff: We did have a fleet of 22 trucks and 28 trailers. Then we got smart and wound it back over time to just one truck and dog. The trucks had a quick release trailer so I can pop the turntable back on when I need to.
Kermie: Local driving?
Jeff: The last half of my career has been. I do the harvest - mainly grain.
Kermie: Always in that side of the industry?
Jeff: Had some interesting times at the goldmine near Armadale where I spent four years pulling ore out of the bottom of the gorge. They'd bring it out from underground in the rail carts, tip it into a pile and we'd load it at the bottom and take it to the top. That was a hairy track. A lot of the grades were 18 to 1 with hairpin bends. I had a couple of Macks then and a Sterling.
The Sterling wasn't suited to the work I was doing so I traded it in on a Volvo FH4 which would handle 48 ton.
The Volvo did all the flat top and tanker work as well.
Kermie: So you're down to one truck now. Is that because you're in the twilight of your trucking life?
Jeff: Yep. Life's too short and we're at a point where we'd rather work to live as against the reverse.
One brother died at 52 and another brother had that many strokes at 52 that he can't do anything.
Kermie: How old are you?
Jeff: Fifty two. I think there might be a bit of a message there.
Kermie: What's the one truck parked in your shed at the moment?
Jeff: A '95 Louisville LTS. She is a good little truck. She's got a 32-foot aluminium semi-tipper.
I picked her up for a bargain and given I only use her three months of the year I couldn't see much sense in going down the Flash-Harry-route.
Kermie: Three months a year?
Jeff: I told you, we were working to live. Just as I sold the other trucks, I got offered a job to do harvest every year. They talked me into buying another truck to go back and do that. You can earn pretty good money. In three months I can make probably $80-$90,000.
Kermie: That makes the year's rego worthwhile.
Jeff: No, I only rego her for three months. It doesn't have an RTA inspection. She's checked over before harvest and when that's over she goes back into the shed until the next year.
Kermie: What are you carting?
Jeff: Wheat and barley. I camp out on the farm then. I'm working out of Croppa Creek, north east of Moree. That's when Sue goes out and has play time with her girlfriends.
Kermie: So what do you do the other nine months of the year?
Jeff: Spend some of the kids' inheritance.
We bought a Navara D 40 and a 30 foot, Australian-made fifth wheeler. Lots of room and lighter than many smaller caravans. There's a lot of this country to see and we intend to have a good look around.