It was an epic adventure for this husband-and-wife duo, who recently completed their first two-up run, pulling a triple east to west, then back again.
He was a refrigeration mechanic and she was a hairdresser, but that all changed when Narelle Peters, 48, and Dennis Peters, 56, moved from the city to the country.
“We lived in Sydney, but moved out to a place called Tomingley, between Parkes and Dubbo in 2009. We were on the family farm and my husband started out carting grain,” explained Narelle. “We were raising four boys and quickly realised there wasn’t much money in farming, so Dennis started working for McNaughts Transport in 2016.”
His work takes him all over the country, carrying general freight, from behind the wheel of a K200. Usually its doubles, with some triples thrown in the mix for the Perth and Kununurra runs.
During one trip to Perth several years ago, Narelle came along for the ride. “I enjoyed it so much that I said I reckon I could do this. He said why don’t you get your licence, so I did,” she explained.
“Growing up on a farm, you’re driving machinery from a very young age, so driving big trucks didn’t phase me too much.”
A hairdresser for about 30 years, Narelle initially had her own hair salon in nearby Peak Hill, but when Covid hit and salons were forced to close, she began looking for other options.
“I already had my HR licence and McNaughts was looking for a rigid driver so they offered me a job. I didn’t have much experience but I jumped in and haven’t looked back. Then I got my HC, and then progressed to my MC in late 2021,” Narelle explained.
“I can’t say enough about McNaughts. They trained us both up and have given us great opportunities. They also encouraged me the entire way and gave me the chance to learn and grow, while using amazing equipment.”
When the couple decided to move to Brisbane two years ago, Dennis continued on with McNaughts, while Narelle began working for Ken Knight Transport. “I’m an around town clown. I drive semis around Brisbane, carrying general freight. When I told my boss Ken about the opportunity to go over to Perth with Dennis, he said just go for it. We were originally supposed to go to Kununurra but because of the floods, we went to Perth instead,” explained Narelle.
The couple set off in Dennis’ K200 during February, returning after 10 days on the road. “It was my first time driving a road train, which was incredible,” added Narelle. “We went from Brisbane to Dubbo and unloaded there, then picked up our third trailer at Narromine, and then from Narromine went over to Perth.
“There were a few people who said: ‘Oh my gosh, how could you stay in the truck together that long!’ Obviously you can have tense times occasionally but you just have to let it go. We work really well together and Dennis has a lot of patience, especially when he’s training people up,” Narelle added.
“Being my first time in a triple, I was fresh and new. It was a hugely different experience going from a double to a triple. You’re fighting yourself to make sure you do everything correctly, but he was really good.”
And it seems Narelle has well and truly found her calling. “I love the freedom and think this is the best job in the world. You get in the truck and have all this space. Once you’re loaded, you’re your own boss. There’s a photo of Dennis driving during a sunset in Port Pirie in South Australia. You don’t get that in the office and you definitely don’t get that in a hair salon!
“I think this will definitely be where I finish up. Being an around town clown is hard work, you’re in and out of the truck all day. I’d love to do more two-up work with Dennis. You get to see the country and you get paid to do it,” she said.