Industry News

Operator reveals plans for Australia’s biggest truck stop

Sydney-based operator Scott Hannah calls it his legacy to the industry.

The 59-year-old boss of Hannah’s Haulage – a renowned linehaul operation delivering from Townsville, down the eastern seaboard, and all the way to Perth – now just needs the NSW state government to get on board to help make his vision a reality.

Hannah is the mastermind behind a proposal to build what would become a “little truck city”, a 20-hectare truckie-friendly metropolis with arguably the best entry and exit points to all the major freight routes you’ll find anywhere in Sydney.

When Big Rigs meets Hannah at his proposed Eastern Creek site, a stone’s throw to the M7 on the western edge, the M4 to the south and Great Western Highway to the north, it’s easy to see why he’s so eager to turn the first sod.

“When you really start to think about it, it’s got to be the best thing for Sydney and the best facility of its kind in the world,” Hannah said.

“It’s an ideal location, and we’re not going to annoy anyone [with the noise]. It’s like a massive big parkland for trucks, drivers and their families. 

The proposed mega stop would take 2-3 years to build and include on-site hotel, bar, steakhouse, grocery store, medical and fitness facilities, barbers, service centres, diesel suppliers, battery chargers, tyre shops, mechanics, transport agencies, such as the NHVR, and leased – or owned – parking spots for up to 600 trucks.

If an operator wanted 20 spaces for B-doubles or road trains, they’d get an allocated number with access all tagged to number plate recognition, precluding caravanners and other motorists from ever hogging their spots.

Exact costing is still be worked out, said Hannah, but $95 per square metre is his early estimate for leasing parking space.

The proposed site has been lying empty for years, just a stone’s throw from all the major highways. Image: Google

He also envisages a myriad of spin-off benefits for industry, from improving the mental health of drivers to providing a centrepiece that will help entice new faces, and fast-tracking compliance requirements.

“Instead of the police or NHVR pulling up the trucks up an hour or two down the road to do logbook checks, I’m bringing the trucks to them.

“They can just walk around the car park. There’s 600 trucks here. You can check them before they leave. We’ll have a weighbridge that’d be linked to the others. They wouldn’t even have to stop.

“This is a start-of-the-art facility that would have everything in it that you’d need. It’s basically a little truck city for drivers.

“It’s great for their mental health too because if they’re going to have a 24- or 48-hour break and they can’t make it home, they can call their mates and have it here with them.

“It’s just like being normal again. And they can leave their trucks here and get an Uber, hire car, whatever, and go into the city for the weekend, or get out of their truck and go and stay in the [on-site] hotel.”

Trucking’s one-stop shop

Hannah said the site also has advantages for the nearby OEMs who he said are all short on workshop parking space.

“They said they’d get their drivers to drop their trucks here and they’d book a floor in the hotel.

“They’d pick the truck up from there – everyone’s within about a 3km radius – and take it away, service it, and bring it back.”

The fuel companies he’s spoken to are also on board, said Hannah. But instead of the usual retail outlets truckies are used to, he envisages the site having automated self-service above ground diesel tanks.

“Once you’ve finished with diesel, just whip them out, done. We’d build it with hydrogen and electric in mind.

Hannah said another plus with the site is that operators running between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane can disconnect their trailers on-site in safety without worrying about permit red tape.

“The idea of it is, if you go from this facility to the same facility in another state, you don’t need permits because you split the trailers up and then go and unload them.

“The route’s already approved by the NHVR. You just whip them straight in here, unhook them and go and do your thing. At the minute, we’ve got to go and do that on the side of the road.

“Someone in jail has got more facilities than a truck driver at the moment. The only place they have around here is the BP at Eastern Creek which is full, and it’s got two showers for 200 drivers. They’ve got to book a time in to have a shower.”

Scott Hannah points out his vision for the mega stop, with parking for up to 600 trucks. Image: James Graham

Hannah said the Pikes Lane site would be primarily for B-triple and road train trucks.

“It’s an assembly area, more or less. You don’t want the big trucks running around town trying to load. 

“You don’t want to go into Wetherill Park with two or three trailers on trying to get around parked cars. You come here, unhook them all first.

“At the moment, you can’t even get a park in industrial areas because everyone is just dumping their trucks there. There’s nowhere to go.

“No developer is going to leave one acre, 10 acres, whatever, for people to park trucks on. The land’s too expensive in Sydney.”

Which is why the Pikes Lane site is so perfect, said Hannah.

“This is swampy land. It’s dust, vibration and noise affected, which doesn’t worry truck drivers, and they don’t want us next to a residential area.

“Here we’re separate from the industrial area because of the creek, and we’re surrounded by federal highways for the north, south and west. There’s not one set of traffic lights between here and Melbourne.”

Scent has gone cold

Hannah’s mega-stop idea stems from pre-Covid days when he said the Liberal federal government loved it so much it was ready to bankroll the concept in each state.

“Then Covid hit, and they gave all the money away and we’ve got to start all over again.”

Undeterred, Hannah pitched the concept publicly to attendees at the 2023 Road Freight NSW conference in Sydney, and has since held meetings with the NHVR and NSW roads minister John Graham, who has also come out in recent months endorsing the need to build a new rest area for truckies.

“They all love the idea, but the scent has gone cold,” Hannah said.

“They wanted some plans, but I said I can’t commit to plans until I know what land I’m going to get.

“To do a set of plans up is probably $40,000 so I needed a commitment to say we’re allowed to use the land.

“We’ve got backers to do it [a private consortium], and being a user-pays system, it’s a no-brainer.

“There’s going to be all sorts of people wanting to get in on it. This would be the best hub for transport in the world, no doubt about it.”

Road Freight NSW has also come out in support of Hannah’s plans, with one caveat – that any rest area would need to be managed to ensure that it was for truckies to rest and gain easy access to essential services.

Hannah is confident, however, that he has all those bases covered, and he’s so sure this is the right spot, that he’d move his main Sydney trucking operation to the site, if he got the green light to use the land.

“It took them what, 30 years to get the airport done at Badgerys Creek. We can’t wait 30 years for this to go ahead.

“This land’s here now and I can’t see why someone can’t come in and say, ‘Right, this is a great idea’, and make a decision.

“Someone’s got to step up and try and get it done.”

NSW wants caravanners instead

Hannah’s proposed site was put up for tender by the Western Sydney Parklands Trust (WSPT) in 2020 as a potential tourism hub, touted as a “unique offering” located in an established tourism precinct within 5km of Sydney Zoo, Raging Waters Sydney, Blacktown International Sportspark, Sydney Motorsports Park and Sydney Dragway.

Big Rigs understands that the trust was hoping the land would give the grey nomads another caravan site in Sydney, with Brisbane-based Sustainable Park Solutions, “a boutique caravan park management company”, engaged to market the Pikes Lane tourism hub.

Sustainable Park Solutions did not respond to a request for comment. WSPT also didn’t answer a direct question about whether the site would be considered as a truck stop, instead directing us to the Western Sydney Parklands Plan of Management, which doesn’t have truck rest areas on its immediate agenda.

“At the time Greater Sydney Parklands wishes to explore income generating leases within the parklands,” the spokesperson said.

“It will be done through an open tender competitive process, in line with accepted government procurement processes.”

All the major highways are within easy reach. Image: James Graham

Blacktown City Council, which owns Pikes Lane itself, told Big Rigs there are a number of sites across Blacktown City that could be considered for land use as a truck stop. 

“These sites, like Pikes Lane. are close in proximity to major transport routes and in locations that are not near to residential areas,” a spokesperson said.

“Blacktown City Council is ready to take part in any discussions.”

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale added that Blacktown City is the perfect place for a Sydney-based rest area for heavy vehicle drivers. 

“Council would welcome a properly funded and maintained site. This will ensure transport operators have what they need to rest and get home at the end of their work day, safe and well. 

“We have over 14,000 residents in our city who work in transport, logistics and warehousing. There is a genuine need: heavy vehicle drivers are on the road every day. The road is their workplace. 

“Council is already working to manage the significant need of frustrated truck drivers. We allow the parking of heavy vehicles on some roads in industrial areas. 

“A heavy vehicle rest area, fit for purpose, properly maintained, centrally located with enough spaces and the right facilities to meet the needs of drivers will go a long way towards supporting drivers as they work every day to keep our city’s economy moving.”


The post Operator reveals plans for Australia’s biggest truck stop appeared first on Big Rigs.

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