The prime movers of Australia’s trucking fleet and the people who drive them are crucial to life in the bush. 

Story and photos by Nathan Dyer

Whether it’s delivering pumpkins from the Atherton Tablelands to the Sydney markets, building supplies to Cape York, cattle to waiting boats in Darwin, grog to Birdsville, or general supplies to outback towns, truck drivers underpin the lifestyle of those who call the bush home. Nearly everything we consume has at some stage been transported by truck. The industry’s major markets span the entire economy and demand for road freight services is a lead indicator of economic growth. 

As one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries, Australia particularly reveres long-haul truckers. The triple and quad road trains of our north are found nowhere else in the world, and our road network – totalling more than 870,000km – is one of the largest on the planet. 

With decades of experience, patience, skill and pride in getting the job done well, Roger Downie and Terry Robertson epitomise an industry employing more than 200,000 drivers and worth $48 billion annually. But at 60 and 67, respectively, the two veteran truckies also reflect a growing issue facing the industry. One in five Australian truck drivers will reach or pass retirement age this year. With demand for road transport expected to grow by almost 30 percent by 2026, the question is, who will drive the fleet?

This story excerpt is from Issue #110

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2017