Industry News

Outback truckie’s dream job was worth the wait

David Wall’s story is a little different to many of the truckies you’ll find pulling road trains across the country’s vast and varied landscape.

For Wall, 54, the fascination with trucks started when he was just a little kid but he chose to take a very different path before finally pursuing his passion.

Wall grew up in the suburb of Geebung in Brisbane and recalls fondly, “I was that obsessed eight-year-old kid on the side of the road getting all the truckies to honk their horns as they drove past. And I was buying truck magazines when I was nine.

“Dad was an accountant and my brother became a policeman, so I guess I’m the odd one out.”

He’s been with Hillman’s Transport for about 10 years. Image: David Wall

A family friend – a truckie who came here from the Netherlands and worked briefly as the school bus driver – helped to further fuel Wall’s interest in driving trucks.

“He’d let me drive the school bus from a few kilometres down the road, with 50 screaming kids in the background. That was until the school principal found out!” said Wall.

“He came here with all intentions of driving trucks. It was back in the ‘80s. He ended up buying his own truck so I got to go with him in the old SAR road train from Brisbane to Perth, with no air conditioning.

“And that still didn’t put me off.”

Wall’s parents told him that if he wanted to drive trucks, he needed to get a trade first and he obliged, becoming a carpet layer. It was a role he continued in until about the age of 35. “But there wasn’t a day that went by that I wouldn’t take my apprentice to the truck stop to go and eat lunch,” he laughed.

“Then it got to a point where I thought I’d give it a crack. No one would give me a go because I didn’t have the experience, so I bought my own truck.”

Together Wall and his wife built up their own little transport business, operating a small fleet of new Kenworths that would run interstate. “We had trucks running bananas between Brisbane and Adelaide and road trains running Wollongong to the mines in Mt Isa,” he explained.

As the couple built the business up, Wall continued on the road while also running the business. “Once I started on the road, I never stopped driving,” he said.

“We had that business all through the global financial crisis but eventually it became impossible to keep going,” he said.

Up until that point, Wall had been self-employed his whole working life, but decided it was time for a change. He sold up the fleet and got a job as a road train driver with Hillman’s Transport. That was about 10 years ago and Wall says he hasn’t looked back.

His run is the 6300 kilometre round trip from Toowoomba to Darwin, from behind the wheel of a brand spanking new 2023 Mack Super-Liner, pulling a triple road train.

“It’s very hard to complain about a brand new truck – it’s a beautiful truck to drive,” explained Wall.

“They replace their trucks every couple of years, so you’re never in an old truck.”

Wall says the Super-Liner is a beautiful truck to drive. Image: David Wall

“I cart mainly general freight and bring back mangoes, prawns and all sorts of things. I’ve done that run for a few years now. Before that I was running out to Moomba along the Strzelecki Track.”

According to Wall, Hillman’s is a great company to work for. “I know my job and they know I do my job, so the only phone call I ever need to make is if I’ve broken down. But at the same time, with Steve Hillman who runs the company, you can ring him any time you want, and he’s always quite responsive to our needs.”

Family owned and operated, Hillman’s runs a fleet of about 50 trucks and has just recently built a new depot in Charlton.

Wall says he absolutely loves the Toowoomba to Darwin run, which takes about six days up and back. “It’s probably about 85 per cent of the trip that’s spent in the wonderful outback of Australia, where there’s hardly anyone around. I’m driving through Camooweal at the moment. I’ve been on the road for the past three hours this morning and I’ve only seen one other person.”

Though when asked about the condition of the roads, he describes the 1000-kilometre stretch from Toowoomba to Longreach as “a complete disaster”.

“That road has been like that forever. It can be terrifying sometimes. There’s always a hole that wants to put you in the paddock!” he said.

Putting the truck through its paces. Image: David Wall

“I had previously done a lot of Brisbane to Sydney trips but always felt like there was something missing for me. When I started doing the outback runs, I knew this was where I wanted to be, driving these big road trains – they’re the biggest trucks on the planet and I still find the whole thing so surreal. Even though I’ve spent well over 1 million kilometres doing this, I still really enjoy it.”

Working at Hillman’s, Wall added that he’s also enjoying the fact that there’s a greater level of work/life balance. “There was a point where I was doing the desert stuff where I hadn’t had a weekend off for two years. I hadn’t been able to sit down and have a barbeque with the people I cared about for years,” he said.

“The long hours can be hard but now when I come home, I get quite a few days off.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a couple of weekends off every month.

“It means I can spend more time at home with my kids, catch up with friends and enjoy their company. Most of our lives, my wife and I have had acreage, so we’ve got horses, cows and there’s often stuff to do out in the shed, so that keeps me busy too.”


The post Outback truckie’s dream job was worth the wait appeared first on Big Rigs.

  1. Australian Truck Radio Listen Live
Send this to a friend