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Showing the harsh side of trucking

Shui and Gordo Evans stand in front of their prime mover. Photographer Peta North
Shui and Gordo Evans stand in front of their prime mover. Photographer Peta North

LIFE on the road is sometimes fraught with danger and new reality TV show Outback Truckers has started beaming that life into homes around the nation.

The show aired for the first time last Saturday on 7Mate and so far feedback has been mixed. Some love it while some are worried that truck driving has been portrayed in a negative light.

From thunderstorms to fires, crashes and breakdowns, the life of nine Outback truckies has been opened up for everyone to see in Prospero Productions' latest offering.

In the hope that the show might help the average Australian understand just what truckies do, outspoken driver Shui Evans agreed to be filmed for the show.

She had been involved in a promo for Mother Truckers nearly five years ago, before it was sold off to another production company and that break saw her in the running for Outback Truckers.

Shui had been working at a meatworks in Wodonga when she met her now husband and trucking partner Gordo.

A truck driver, Gordo had been driving since he was 22 and the couple had always talked of moving to WA and working together.

One day Shui quit her job after she was refused a pay rise on the basis that she was a woman and told Gordo they were "going west".

They headed for WA and only looked back once.

That mistake saw them driving in Wodonga for an 18-month stint.

"Every time my bum was in the seat I was pulled up. I think it was because I was a woman," Shui said of her time driving in Wodonga.

She said that the RTA would ask her "Do you have a licence to drive this?" even though she was towing two trailers.

"In the east they are not tolerant of women. I had constant abuse over the CB," she said.

She said the men felt women were taking the job from them.

"I won't back off from anyone who gives me a load of crap, no matter how big they are," she told Big Rigs.

That, and a lack of facilities, were challenges for women in the industry.

"I have a beef with companies who employ women drivers and don't have separate facilities."

She has had to shower with the men.

"They're not catering for women drivers."

But she loves her job: "I wouldn't change it".

More than that though the public needed to be more understanding of truck drivers.

"We're not as bad as they think. There's cowboys in any profession, but the public needs to be more respectful.

"They think we're tailgating when we're not. Everything they touch comes from a truck. Every night they go to sleep we're out there doing a bloody hard job.

"It doesn't stop with driving. Once back at the depot we have to put away our trailers and dollys, fill out paperwork, fault reports and wash the truck, then we have to take everything out.

"And I detail it after every trip. I don't like a driving a dirty vehicle.

"I'm hoping the show will show the public a bit more of what we do. It's a tough job for a woman. We get paid the same as the men, and do the same work."

And it wasn't easy for Shui to adjust to life on the road.

"At first I didn't realise how hard it would be and I cried for a year. We were doing east-west and only having one day off and then going straight back out.

"After the first year I got used to it."

Filming for the show took place last year and saw a cameraman on the road with the couple for about a month and follow-up interviews for a few months afterwards.

"Sometimes I forgot (I was on camera) and I would have some fella pull out and I let fly."

Topics:  channel 7 truck drivers

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