Wally Cox is a former owner-driver and truck workshop owner who now enjoys doing “the paddock” in someone else’s truck.
Wally Cox first travelled across the Nullarbor on a truck 35 years ago.
That was when a kindly truckie loaded up Wally’s broken-down HQ Monaro at Caiguna, with Wally and a mate doing the rest of the trip sitting in the car chained on top of the trailer.
The former winner of the Australian trucking industry’s top prize for mechanics – the Craig Roseneder award — has been regularly crossing “the paddock” ever since, one way or another.
Wally was a RAAF apprentice mechanic over east at that time, and ran his own truck and bus workshop in Horsham in western Victoria for 20 years.
But he hails from dairy country near Bunbury south of Perth, and while he might go anywhere in Australia for Willaton Transport of Morwell in the Latrobe Valley, his regular run is to Perth or further north, and returning from Bunbury.
“I’m very fortunate that this job gives me the chance to have time with my family in Western Australia and with friends in the eastern states,” Wally says.
“I seem to be able to time my arrival at meal times, a skill developed over many years.
“I also get time to myself. I never had that in 20 years of running a workshop; people are in your face all day.
“Here, we’re given our destination and off we go and do it. It’s flat out to Perth, but after that we go and load at our leisure and basically jog back home to the eastern states, unload, and then go back again when we’re ready to go.”
That loading and unloading is at an hourly rate, on top of the kilometre rate for the 7,000km round trip.
What does Wally, 53, reckon of the scenery?
“Some people say it’s boring as crap but I find every time you go across there’s something just that little bit different,” he says.
“You can go across one week and it looks barren and desolate; sometimes you look at the sheep and think those poor bastards have got steel wool.
“But the next week they’ve had an inch of rain out there and it looks green and magnificent.”
Check out much more on Wally Cox and Willaton Transport in the June issue of Owner//Driver