The Trucking Life in the Pilbara

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Here’s a video about the trucking life in the Pilbara for Heather Jones and her family, who all work as truckies in the remote North West. 

Heather has long been an advocate for giving women a better chance to make a go of it in the trucking industry. The Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls have been operating for quite a few years and the initiative received a fillip when the Volvo Group came on  board sponsoring the training outfit with a Volvo and Mack prime mover.

One of Heather’s main concerns is that transport operators often lack the resources to take on a driver who has the correct license, but no experience. Driver training schools are not obliged to prepare a driver for work; they just prepare them to pass the test.

The PHHG and Heather take licensed but inexperienced drivers out on the road with them in a crash course in the realities and procedures of life on the road in a road train.

A few of years ago, PowerTorque met up with Lee Roberts as she was in training with the PHHG, and later, met up with her to find out how she had fared in the trucking industry since the initial training. 

“I hadn’t touched a dolly before I got up there. Everything I picked up was great and the confidence I got from Heather was awesome,” said Lee. “Afterwards, I came back down to Perth and Heather introduced me to South West Express and I was approached by a recruitment mob at the same time. I actually worked for both operations for about a year. They were both aware I was working two jobs, one in refrigeration and one on the wharf. I was working 12 days a fortnight.”

Lee still has no paper proof of her capabilities and the one document she has is the one she started with, her MC license. However, what she does have now is a track record, working with the PHHG, and becoming a regular part of the South West Express set-up. 

“I still don’t think it’s right that you can get your road train license by driving a B-double,” says Lee. “To get your crane ticket you need to get 100 hours up on the crane to qualify. You have to do a one week course on a confined work site, not out on the road with everyone else. 

“Even if you want to get some paid-for extra training for yourself, you can’t. There’s nowhere to go to get it. Something like Heather is doing is awesome, but she needs more help to make it into something like it needs to be. It also needs to be signed off by some nationally-recognised body.”

Lee has found that the way for someone like her to get into the truck driving profession is through recruitment companies. ‘They’ll take anyone’ is how she puts it. As a final comment, this is a damning statement about the state of training in the trucking industry. 

the trucking life in the Pilbara