Fuelling the north-west

By: Peter Schlenk, Photography by: Peter Schlenk


It’s fuel haulage all the way for Chris Smith, who arrived from New Zealand four years ago. Now he’s a Centurion driver behind the wheel of a Kenworth T909.

 

Despite only joining Centurion in recent times, Chris Smith was full of praise for the Western Australian company when Owner//Driver caught up with him in the town of Port Hedland.

Smith joined Centurion after leaving his home in New Zealand four years ago and hauls fuel in a Kenworth T909 across the north-west of WA and Kimberley regions.

"They operate the latest equipment, the newest tankers are only three months old, running with Kenworth T909 heavy-duty prime movers," Smith says of Centurion.

"I also have a great package including housing assistance which provides security for my family. This saves me a lot of money. It’s things like that which help to retain drivers."

Hauling fuel may not be everyone’s ideal job, but in the sparsely populated areas of WA it’s the lifeblood of every industry and business. From cattle stations to mines, it’s all about powering generators, heavy machinery and fuelling huge mine operations.

"There is lots of variety of work and destinations on this job that can get interesting, especially during the wet season," Smith says.

"You could get stuck very easily on dirt roads that turn to mud if you are not careful and you could become bogged in no time."

The T909 is always well stocked, especially in the rainy season with plenty of food and water on hand. It’s also fitted with a refrigeration unit to keep the bunk comfortable when sleeping overnight.

The 29-year-old Smith says he decided to make the move across the ditch for the experience of driving road trains in Australia.

"The money wasn’t the deciding factor, it was more the job and the experience and the opportunity to drive a road train as we don’t have anything similar back in NZ," he says.

"We have nothing this size, weight or length at home."

Pick up the April edition of Owner//Driver to read the full story on Chris Smith. Click here to secure your copy today.

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