Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence Alf Wilson

Truckie doesn't hold back on thoughts about the industry

WITH permanent retirement looming in June, veteran truckie Stephen Lawrence said he wants to speak about a few gripes he has.

Stephen will turn 70 on June 12 and I saw him sitting down having a rest north of Townsville on April 26.

"I am one of the last of the old breed of truckies still driving and have many years experience," he said.

As Stephen smoked a cigarette he spoke about young truckies in the road transport industry.

"Many of these young drivers coming through think they know everything but they really know Jack Shit," he said.

As for the state of the road transport industry for all drivers, Stephen didn't hold back.

"There are too many rules and regulations and it is hard to keep up with them. Some change from state to state and the traffic cops and scalies nitpick and fine us for everything they can," he said.

Townsville-based Stephen said he had been a truck driver for more than 50 years, a bloody good innings.

"I have driven in every Australian State except Tasmania and also in the ACT and NT," he said.

When he sits at a roadhouse in North Queensland, Stephen commands a lot of respect from other truckies because of his vast experience.

These days he works a few days a week delivering groceries for Mystgold to places like Ingham, which is 110km north of Townsville and occasionally out west.

"I was working full-time until a few months ago but am happy with a few days a week now. I plan to

<QL>retire permanently when I turn 70 (in June)," he said.

Over the last half century Stephen has driven most truck makes including a Volvo and Freightliner which he still gets behind the wheel of.

"When I was younger I spent six years in the Army and 16 in the reserves and used to like driving Uninmog trucks," he said.

I asked Stephen to nominate his favourite roadhouse, and he was swift to answer.

"It would be the roadhouse on the western side of Richmond in Queensland across from the cattle yard. They are friendly. Bush people usually are. The Bohle Puma is good as well," he said.

Anzac Day each year is very important to Steve who back in 1969 got called up for National Service.

"I didn't end up going to Vietnam but I pay my respects every Anzac Day if I am not working," he said.

One of his wishes before moving on to that happy hunting ground for old truckies, is to get out to Alice Springs to visit the Australian Truck Drivers Hall of Fame.

"I have never been there but really want to before I die. So it will be soon after I retire," he said.

His other aim is to go on regular holidays and talk to as many truckies as possible on his travels.

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