Nifty Neville's lifetime on the road

By: Peter Schlenk, Photography by: Peter Schlenk

Neville ‘Nifty’ Cooper is such a contented long-haul driver, not even the grey nomads bother him

Nifty Neville's lifetime on the road
Neville Cooper enjoys the trucking lifestyle


Neville ‘Nifty’ Cooper firmly believes in working to live and not living to work. Hence, his fishing rod is stored in the back of the Western Star he drives for Cahill Transport.

"I’ve just spent two days up in Darwin trying to catch the elusive barra. I still haven’t got him but my turn will come," Neville smiles.

Neville moved from Brisbane to Adelaide to take up a job with Cahill, running up the centre.

"The job opportunity came up so I turned myself into a grey nomad and run up and down to Darwin, pulling a triple," he explains.

It has been suggested to Neville that, after a lifetime of driving trucks, he should retire.

"But I love the job. My drug is life and enjoying it, and I overdose on it every day of the week. That’s why I’m out here.

"Everybody leaves me alone and I can enjoy this spectacular country. No phone calls, nothing — unless I get into a bit of strife."

The Western Star, with a Cat ACERT under the bonnet, is only a few years old. Neville says he has an agreement with the old girl — if he doesn’t push her too hard then she won’t break down.

Something that doesn’t amuse Neville is the lack of truck parking bays with facilities. Neville is away from home six days out of seven so a little comfort wouldn’t hurt.

"I won’t eat off the ground, so I eat at a table and chair. About 20 per cent of people I come across come over and abuse me for being in their parking bay. I explain to them very politely that there aren’t many truck parking bays with tables and chairs, only three between Darwin and Alice Springs."

Out on the road, Neville says he tries to cut some slack for the grey nomads. He considers himself one of them.

"Some try to kill themselves but as I say, people would be surprised how many lives truck drivers save by taking evasive action when we have to.

"Sometimes it can be a bit hard with three trailers on the back but we are always out there dodging lizards, kangaroos, emus, brumbies, the odd camel, Winnebagos and caravans.

"Generally the grey nomads are pretty good, and just like me, they are out here seeing this great country."

To read the full story on Neville 'Nifty' Cooper, see the May 2014 issue of Owner//Driver magazine.

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