Truckie ditches chef career to drive rigs in SA

Lindsee Cameron took an unexpected path into the transport industry.

Unlike many others, her journey didn’t involve familial connections or a childhood surrounded by trucks, but rather a long-winded exploration of other careers.

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“I had travelled around Europe when I was in my early 20s. I actually got a job in Ireland as a racehorse trainer,” Lindsee says.

“It became a disappointing position, and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.”

Deciding to leave and shop around for new jobs, she soon started working in hospitality as a waitress.

“It was really fun, especially waitressing overseas. Yet I was always leaning towards being at the back of the restaurant.”

Lindsee grew up surrounded by cooking, with her brother even enlisting as a chef for the Navy and opening a restaurant.

“We come from a fairly cook orientated Italian family. We were taught how to cook at a young age and we loved it.”

“I think it’s just always been there.”

Deciding it was time to open a new chapter, Lindsee packed up her bags and flew back to Australia, undertaking an apprenticeship with her brother at his restaurant.

“I ended up working as a chef for 12 years,” she says.

“I lived all over Eastern Australian doing that. I ran a restaurant as head chef for three years in Byron Bay for my Balinese friend and it was great.”

She then moved to Melbourne, working out in the Yarra Valley at some very prestigious restaurants.

After a decade, it dawned on Lindsee that there were more paths she wanted to explore and now was the time to do it.

“I actually went back to university and studied nutrition. It led to me taking on a less commercial role in a health-oriented industry.”

Lindsee thanks the WITA program for helping her ‘get her foot in the door

She began working at a health food store doing cooking demonstrations and recipes before switching to support work.

“I became a personal chef for people with disabilities. It was a great job to travel around with and I enjoyed it.”

When the pandemic struck and many jobs were put on hold, Lindsee found herself questioning what she was doing.

“I was like, it’s been amazing. It’s been a great ride and adventure, but it hasn’t really set me up financially,” she says.

“I think a lot of chefs feel that way. They get to their 40s and they’re like, wow, it was so fun but where’s my nest egg? I sort of got a little bit of burnout.”

Luckily for Lindsee, she had been friends with Women in Trucking Australia (WITA) CEO Lyndal Denny for over a decade.

“For my 40th birthday she really wanted me to come to Adelaide and have a look around at what she had been doing.”

“I had always been very interested in Women in Trucking, and I was always her number one fan so I decided to go.”

It became clear to Lindsee that while she had never really considered it in the past, truck driving was seeming like something she could really get behind.

“I ended up moving out to Adelaide and living with Lyndal, helping her out with some admin and bits and pieces for WITA.”

“I had been thinking about truck driving and getting involved with the mines.”

“The biggest issue I found was being female, it’s really hard to get in. I was met with a lot of negativity of why females shouldn’t work in the mines.”

Who would’ve thought a former chef would be this comfortable behind the wheel

Determined, Lindsee didn’t let the comments turn her off, but it instead empowered her to get it done.

While she was in Adelaide, Lyndal had been in the process of creating the Foot in the Door program.

Funded by the NHVR, the WITA program supports inexperienced female heavy vehicle drivers with securing licenses and employment.

“The program is all tailored around what you need and what you want and where you want to go in the industry. So I was like, wow, this is so perfect for me,” she says.

“I actually joined the first round and I just loved it. It’s been amazing.”

In South Australia, C Class licensed drivers can go straight to an HC once they’ve completed a Training in Lieu of Experience (TILE) course and the appropriate driver training and assessment.

With financial support from the program, Lindsee was able to complete the training and achieve her HC licence, opening up a plethora of doors.

She now drives for NATRIO out of Adelaide carting soda-ash from the Port to Adelaide Brighton Cement and is the first woman driver they have ever employed.

“This company has taken me on fully knowing that I don’t have any experience, which is great.”

“I’ve been treated with nothing but equalness and fairness, and it’s been really amazing.”

Lindsee says the transition was to truck driving was surprisingly easy, and credits that to the company she chose to work for.

“There’s a lot of companies out there that just aren’t forgiving if you’re a little bit green. And I think that’s something in the industry that needs changing,” she says.

“There have been a few instances where quite often I’m thrown in the deep end and I have a bit of a panic moment.

“I’m like, oh my god, what do I do? Luckily for me, I have some pretty nice bosses and some good workmates that have got a lot of experience that I can call and they will always help me out.

Lindsee says while her path to trucking wasn’t typical, she is grateful for the opportunities she has received and is excited to continue her work as a woman in transport.

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