I have only driven a truck once, and I wasn't really supposed to.

In terms of some of the gigantic rigs which stretch out across the highways of this land the thing I briefly steered was a midget.

Actually, it was a Bedford, and a fairly tired old one at that but the wheels turned and the deck of it was almost in good shape.

It had seen plenty of kilometres and had carried plenty of wool bales.


I put about three more kilometres on the clock as the old lad who usually drove the thing from one woolstore to another had called in crook, and the other bloke who had a heavy transport type driving licence was tied up marshalling the arrival of wool for an imminent sale.

This was during my stint within the wool industry, which I spent about eight years at.

So then, we had to get about 80 bales from one store across to another store where they could be compressed up...two bales pressed into the size of one for shipping.

All we needed was a driver.

Being a foreman at the time I decided to take the wheel...because basically no one else wanted to take the risk, despite the roads which needed to be traversed being away from retail and residential streets.

I looked into the cluttered and weary old cockpit and saw everything was in the right place, and that the well-worn gearstick had what appeared to be a golf ball securely taped to the end of it in place of whatever had originally been there.

The gears went the same way as our Humber 90 so no worries on that front.

So we loaded about 25 bales on it and I fired the thing up.


Pushing it into gear was accompanied by some interesting noises and I eased the clutch and off we rolled.

Turning right out of the store was an early challenge.

Put it this way...I suspect there was an "issue" with the power steering unit...if indeed it even possessed one.

I stuck to about 30km/h, got as far as third gear, made about five turns, reversed into the destination store and felt like I'd driven about 160km.

The thing that got me was the size.

Yep, basically a miniature of one of those real big truck and trailer brutes which arrived carrying about 125 bales, but after trundling about in a four-seater Humber it's dimensions rattled me.


Yeah, I would have got used to it had I been charged with driving it daily, and indeed by my third voyage that day I was more comfortable with the size and the questionable rear vision set-up.

But I was a happier monkey the following day when our laconic old truckie returned to work...marking his arrival with a terse "who's been drivin' me truck?"

"Oh one of the boys," I replied.

So then, my aptitude for trucking was not sharp, but I had nothing but admiration for the lads who drove those giant trailer jobs and who would arrive and reverse into an entrance way only slightly larger than the average garage.

It's called skill...created by experience.

And there is plenty of that, in fact truck and trailer loads of it, as the trucking wizards of Oz climb into the cabs of their monsters.


Cabs which in some cases appear to be almost half the size of the entire Bedford I piloted.

Outback Truckers is back on the road (albeit often dusty or partially submerged ones) on TV1 tomorrow night and yep, there ain't no such thing as a straight forward job.

The pilots of these great things either cop dodgy weather, dodgy roads, dodgy mechanical issues and all the while the rigs they steer appear to be carrying the weight of a small town.

So then the "cast" of this weekly big wheel adventure do occasionally fray.

They aren't acting, although some are inclined to act up for the cameras, and generally attract the "bleeps".

I can recall one episode when a big old hardened truckie broke down in tears after his trailer bogged down during a ford crossing and before the rescue trucks could arrive the torrential rains that bogged up the region returned.


It's an intriguing and colourful glimpse at both a remarkable landscape and some remarkable characters, and there have been a fair spread of them since the show debuted in 2012.

Outback Truckers, TV1 at 7.30pm Tuesday: This is called cutting to the chase. For in this episode the truckies are contracted to make a delivery to a rather isolated outback spot so what happens?

Yep, heavy rains create floods and the roads are so torn up the only way to complete the task is to veer off-road completely.
Think I'll stick to the day job.


What Next? TV1 at 8.30pm Tuesday: The exploration into the future (always a contentious pursuit) continues here with a look at one thing we all possess, but at different levels.

Health, and how health can be manipulated, improved and soothed, by that stuff called medicine.


Host Jehan Casinader delves into the prospect of greater human longevity, if the advances in medicine are strong.

That probably will be the case...I just hope he also delves into the question of whether people requiring certain medicines will be able to afford them.

It seems to me the healthiest entities across the landscape of humanity are the pharmaceutical companies.

Manhunt, TV1 at 8.30pm Wednesday: Martin Clunes is a unique entertainer.

He is a very accomplished comedian and an equally accomplished host of documentary journeys into foreign climes.

And he can hit the drama button as easily, and slickly, as he can the button for both those other attributes.


Here he plays a detective chief inspector with London Police by the name of Colin Sutton.

It is a role based on real people and real incidents — being the pursuit of a mass murderer.

The reviews have been glowing as the three-part series is played accurately and without gloss.

A top class job by Clunes, again.