Ice-cream dream run

By: Peter Schlenk, Photography by: Peter Schlenk

After years in a city-bound managerial job, Justin Donovan has found his niche driving a near-new Kenworth T409 up and down the east coast.

Ice-cream dream run
Justin Donovan swapped a suit-and-tie job to become a truck driver


Justin Donovan pulled up at the BP Marulan Southbound in a Kenworth T409 SAR, one of two Berle Transport trucks when Owner//Driver caught up with him. Alongside was another Berle truck, a K200 with Robbie Anderson behind the wheel.

The SAR is one of two conventional trucks in Berle’s seven-truck fleet, with the majority of the work  moving ice-cream up and down the east coast of Australia and across to Adelaide.

"This is only the second bonneted truck that Darren Berle has bought," Justin explains. "The rest are all cab-over Kenworths.

Justin says Berle Transport has three big cab K200 Aerodynes, a K104B and another K104.

"I think lengthwise he likes the 12-pallet A-trailers. Mine is only a 10 pallet because of the 50-inch bunk.

"It’s not too bad because we get our weight on quite easily with ice cream," he says.

The SAR’s Cummins is set at 575hp and that’s just fine according to Justin.

"I’m regularly pulling the doubles up at 61 to 62 tonne so it’s good to have that bit extra on those big hills up and down the Hume."

As well as being a workhorse, the T409 SAR became a temporary show truck at last year’s Kenworth Klassic at the Hawkesbury Showgrounds outside Sydney.

"It was a fantastic weekend," Justin smiles. "Berle’s had three trucks there; mine, a K104 and a K100E.

"It was a great day and the weather turned out to be beautiful so it actually worked really well and it got the kids out to have a look.

"It was my first time to a Kenworth Klassic and my wife and the kids had a ball!"

Justin has been with Ingleburn, Sydney-based Berle Transport for six years. Prior to the SAR, he drove an Aerodyne with an automatic gearbox.

"I didn’t mind the auto but once I got the manual stick and the bonneted truck, that was it.

"It has the smart steering wheel, modern dash, everything is beautiful," Justin smiles. "They have come so far."

The big bunk with its two fridges and a TV inside is Justin’s home for six out of seven nights each week. It’s an ideal set-up, especially as one of his regular runs is from Sydney to Brisbane, then onto Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns; making drops on the way up and bringing bananas back.

"It’s a nice run up there," Justin says. "The roads are a bit rougher but it’s good to get away and the weather is beautiful. Plus you don’t have the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne."

It’s a leisurely drive as well, with a drop every eight or so hours. Once he arrives at his destination he goes to bed and unloads in the morning, which means he gets a good 10 to 12 hours off every night.

 610 SAR

Father and son

Another big advantage for the 50-inch cab is its double bunks, which is handy when Justin’s 13 year-old son Jett travels with him during school holidays. It’s no issue for Berle Transport who are a family-oriented company.

"He enjoys coming with me; it’s our father-son time," Justin smiles. "It’s the best part of the job, taking the young lad with me."

"Jett has his hard drive in the bunk with all the kid’s movies. It’s such a good home for both of us and we have a good laugh together."

While Justin loves driving trucks, especially in his current role job with Berle, his early years were spent in an entirely different industry.

"I was in a suit and tie for 15 years, managing car parks in the city.

"Swapping that for driving trucks was a big difference, but I love my own company and my wife Sandra loves her own space. We get on well and it suits us both."

Justin started with TNT, then Australian Overnight Trucking and on to Pace Farm Eggs before joining Berle Transport. At first he drove rigids doing local deliveries, but as the opportunities became available, he moved up the ladder.

"The boss I worked for with the little trucks had some semi-trailers so I just worked my way up."

His first interstate truck was a T401 Kenworth which was a big stepping stone.

"I learnt and then progressed from there. I went into a cab-over and now I’m back into an SAR.

"I love bonnets, it’s a smoother ride, they drive so well and have a beautiful bunk."

Justin even enjoys running the Hume, with its dual lanes all the way.

"It’s actually quite peaceful actually. You just sit there, put the cruise on, listen to music and sing along."

"I get paid to do what I love; that’s the best part.

"I have the best gear and work in a well-run company that appreciates what you do."

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