Cab-over comfort: Why the K200 is king


Mick Thompson’s started off driving a 300hp truck. He’s doubled that now with a 600hp K200. Peter and Di Schlenk write.

Cab-over comfort: Why the K200 is king
Mick Thompson drives a Kenworth K200, the pick of the Rural Haulage Australia fleet.

Rural Haulage Australia, operated by Glen and Susie Clyne, is a fairly modest-sized outfit. With its head office based in Naracoorte amid South Australia’s Limestone Coast region, the company has three trucks in its fleet – all Kenworths.

It’s also where you’ll find Mick Thompson, the regular driver for the company’s 2012 Kenworth K200. A K104 and a K104b complete the trio of trucks.

However, Mick reckons he’s got the best deal with the K200 being the newest in the fleet.

"While the boss does drive, I’ve got the K200 and love it," he says.

Rural Haulage Australia started off with one truck in 2006. Its regular freight is hay, wool and general. However, it’s all farm related and when Owner//Driver caught up with Mick, he had just returned from delivering a new tractor and plough to South Australia’s west coast.

It was an overcast day, and Mick was waiting until the weekend to give the truck a clean.

"The rain is good for everyone; it’s money in the bank," he says. "The crops are looking good and with a good harvest we’re kept busy with a lot of machinery, both new and second hand moving to both dealers and farms around the place."

Rural Haulage Australia sends its trucks Australia-wide, and Mick appreciates the variety of the job.

Being a married man himself, he also enjoys being employed by a small, family-owned business.

"I’m home most weekends, returning on Fridays and leaving again on Mondays," he says. "I’m lucky to have a really good boss who runs a great business."

Mick has been driving for 14 years. After leaving school and completing an apprenticeship he, like many in the industry, followed his father Shane Thompson and began driving. As well as driving trucks, Shane had operated a few of his own out of Naracoorte.

"I grew up in and around trucks, so there probably wasn’t much choice," Mick says. "I loved them and it was in the blood.

He started off in a 300hp MAN, hauling hay, wool and grapes. During drought times he would haul hay up into New South Wales.

"It was a good experience starting in something with only 300hp and no Jake brake."

Smooth ride

Mick has moved on from those years, and enjoys driving the K200, especially as he finds it a smoother ride than other Rural Haulage Australia Kenworths. He reckons it has a better bunk too.

"It’s much easier to get in and out of bed," he says. "They have improved the cab-overs a lot, and the K200 has stairs that swing out."

Mick enjoys getting out and about, with his runs regularly taking him across to Melbourne and up to Brisbane, with the occasional run west to Perth.

"We do a lot of wool to Melbourne," he continues. "We’re probably a bit smarter with the wool because we have our own telehandler with a bale grab on, so the boss goes out and does all the farm pick-up.

"One of us will go out with a B-double and he will take the telehandler and load it.

"With the OH&S side of things, there’s no climbing on top. Moving the bales is all done by machine – it’s a good way to do it."

It’s when Mick gets off the beaten track that he has an issue. He says the country roads are deteriorating at a rapid rate.

"You’ve just got to look down in western Victoria, down around Portland. The roads down there are stuffed.

"There are more and more trucks … log trucks and tip trucks, they’re getting bigger and the roads are old and can’t handle it."

The other big issue which concerns Mick is the over-regulation.

"While the permit system has improved with some of the bigger machinery we do, there are still dramas waiting for permits.

"It is easier than it was though; it was chaotic there for a while," he says.

"We run under the Agriculture Permit for a lot of our stuff which is four metres wide but when we have bigger gear it’s a police escort and the rest of it."

Mick does enjoy wide loads which means he only travels in daylight hours, kicking back cooking a barbecue and enjoying a cold one in the evenings.

The K200 needed a bath when Owner Driver photographed it and Mick was giving it a wash on the weekend.

"The rain is good for everyone! Its money in the bank with the rain pretty much. The crops are looking good; with a good harvest we are kept busy with a lot of machinery, both new and second hand moving to both dealers and farms around the place. The wheels are kept turning."

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