HIGHWAY CATCH-UP: Robert Pratt and his mum Thelma Pratt-Lewis.
HIGHWAY CATCH-UP: Robert Pratt and his mum Thelma Pratt-Lewis. Alf Wilson

Trucking is in the veins

A BREAKDOWN at the small hamlet of Tolga in north Queensland enabled Townsville-based driver Robert Pratt to catch up with his mum - former long-time truckie Thelma Pratt-Lewis.

Tolga is a small hamlet on the Atherton Tablelands where Big Rigs came across 50-year-old Townsville-based Robert parked there with his Kenworth 501.

"I did a speed sensor which needed repairs and am fixing it myself after getting the parts in Tolga,” Robert said.

"I arrived here about 5pm yesterday and had to stay overnight.

Luckily for Robert help wasn't too far away.

In a stroke of good fortune not often present at a breakdown, Robert's 79-year-old mum Thelma arrived in a car and it was a great opportunity for Big Rigs to snap a picture of them together.

Robert Pratt and his Kenworth 501.
Robert Pratt and his Kenworth 501. Alf Wilson

It is not often Big Rigs gets to be on the spot at such a reunion between a driver and his mum.

"I live at Millstream, which is near Ravenshoe also on the Atherton Tablelands, and it was great to be able to see Robert again as we only normally see each other a few times a year,” Thelma, who lives about 50km from Tolga, said.

Thelma was herself a truckie based at Townsville and drove from 1973 to 1997.

The delightful septuagenarian said she had driven a UD Nissan, Mitsubishi and Scania in her time as a truckie.

"I regularly did the Townsville to Karumba run and drove to Weipa once with my daughter,” Thelma said.

Following his beloved mum to become a truck driver had always been an aim of Robert from a young age.

"I always wanted to drive trucks and have been doing it now for more than 30 years,” he said.

Robert had a full load including a white Mack truck, a Bluebird car and scrap metal.

"The Mack was at Weipa and was carrying scrap metal and doing towing work. It still goes well. The scrap metal is going to Simsmetal in Townsville,” Robert said.

The load included an old Mack and a sedan.
The load included an old Mack and a sedan. Alf Wilson

Robert works for Scott Jones East Coast and Tipper Hire of Mackay and likes the Brute Series Kenworth, which is named the "Gambler”.

"It is a very reliable truck and I do a run to Weipa usually twice a week. It takes about 30 hours,” he said.

As many truckies who travel the mostly red dirt and corrugated road to Weipa will attest to, it can be a challenging drive.

It is closed to traffic in the wet season and Robert did experience some rain on that trip.

"Overall the road to Weipa is not too bad,” he did concede.

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