Loading up a longneck

By: Rod Hannifey*

OPINION: It was livestock freight of a different kind during a trip from Dubbo to a South Australian safari park

Loading up a longneck
A special enclosure for a special load

It has been a busy Christmas for many and after such a turbulent year let us all hope things will improve and settle down. In the period up to Christmas I had a couple of different trips from normal. The first was transporting a giraffe from Dubbo Zoo to the Monarto Safari Park near Murray Bridge, South Australia.

Animals travel between zoos for many reasons, but they too had been stopped from travelling with the virus and its implications, as often with bigger animals, keepers travel with them to help with the travel and transition.

This was not a full-grown giraffe, but with an upcoming expansion at Monarto, this young fellow was needed to increase the herd. Big plans are in place for expansion there and if you are in the area, I certainly recommend a visit. It will be getting bigger and better over the next couple of years.

They have a large crate to allow for safety of the animal and feeding by keepers from outside once loaded. We loaded late Wednesday afternoon and were on the road at daylight Thursday morning, no real issues except for a garbage truck that, without a passenger, nearly pulled out in front of us from an off-set side road.

Daylight travel and a few stops to check the giraffe saw me arrive near on perfect time as planned that night. Sometimes things do go as you hope. It was a big day, but I was given the choice to do it in one or two days and agreed that for the animal as well, one was achievable and the best option. I was put up overnight; we unloaded the boy into a quarantine yard and for him to see his new mates without any risk of getting too close.

A couple of drivers actually asked if I have a giraffe on. The height and setup of the cage may have given it away even though it was fully enclosed. Another of our drivers also took an elephant to Melbourne, so it was something completely different for him as well.

The passenger checks out his new friends after arriving at Monarto

Triple treat

Next we had a big plan over a couple of weeks and initially I thought, if this goes pear-shaped I will not get home for Christmas. However, the first roadtrain trip to Mt Isa went well. We had a number of trains on the road that week going up there and the only real issue, other than the heat, was a tyre to be sorted on another trailer before I left to come back to Brissie.

Once back, I went and loaded one trailer, ran it out to Oakey to pick up another that was needed in Brisbane, went back and had my break while the third one got loaded for me. The first was sitting in Roma waiting.

I must thank young Damon Blinko for his help with a wiring problem. I had checked the trailer I took out, then I checked the trailer and dolly that was loaded for me before I left. But when I got to Oakey there were no lights to the second trailer. We changed two plugs and still had a problem, so in the end we bypassed the dolly and it all worked. I sent him the lead back and a TruckRight Industry Vehicle (TIV) cup as thanks. He certainly deserved it.

Finally, I hooked up at Roma to the third trailer but where it had been parked was tight to get out. A final check and on the road, not even up to highway speed, there was a car overtaking me into the path of an oncoming car and caravan. The car went off the road – the driver simply did not look properly. It may not have actually involved me had they hit head on but could have. I thought, "what a good start".

The rest of the trip went well, apart from having to play with another plug and spread the pins at Blackall. It was good timing to have just done the intercooler, it was hot and heavy going with the three trailers on. Apart from me feeling the heat when unloading in the sun and then having to have a 24-hour break in the middle of nowhere with no facilities, there were no other real problems.

I doubled one up at Winton, just beating the rain, dropped the dog at Gatton pads and got back out to pick up the second and go to bed at Rusty’s servo as there is a two-hour limit at the Gatton pads.

I will shortly leave for Port Hedland, so that will be a first for me. A good two weeks or more is planned for the round trip – and of course that’s subject to loading and getting there, all going well.

In roadtrain mode for the Mt Isa trip

Facebook negativity

As a short follow-up to my listing of issues re the Newell in my last column: you all see and travel on other roads to me and some of them are worse and some are better. I do not know or travel on every road in Australia and I have never said I know all the problems, nor can I fix them all. Yes, I am preaching to the converted, but the intent is to raise the issue to those who should be acting on the information and fixing our roads.

They blame us for the damage, they charge us for the use, but surely we want both value for money and safety for all. To those who commented on the Owner/Driver Facebook page with smart-alec remarks, I ask the same thing here to any who wish to belittle my efforts. What are you doing to get one road fixed? If we do not raise the issues, even less will be done to improve our roads, our lives and our safety on those roads. 


*ROD HANNIFEY, a transport safety advocate, has been involved in raising the profile of the industry, conducting highway truck audits, the Blue Reflector Trial for informal parking bays on the Newell, the ‘Truckies on Road Code’, the national 1800 number for road repairs proposal, and the Better Roadside Rest Areas Group. Contact Rod on 0428 120 560, e-mail rod.hannifey@bigpond.com or visit www.truckright.com.au


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