Mitchell Rice and his truck.
Mitchell Rice and his truck.

Young truckie gives it a go

EXPERIENCE gained as a trades assistant to a diesel mechanic and having opportunities to work with and operate machinery have been assets for 26-year-old Tasmanian Mitchell Rice.

That experience has proven essential for him getting a job as a truck driver.

Based at busy Burnie on the North West coast beside the Bass Highway, Mitchell started work as a driver for Toll three years ago.

“I have always had a passion for driving trucks and been mechanically minded since I was a young tacker,” he said.

“It was always going to be hard as a young man to get a start but with perseverance and the support of a family friend in the business, I finally got a chance to drive for Toll after working as a forklift operator for Seaquip for 18 months.”

Mitchell drives a Kenworth T-609 and was delivering locally around scenic Devonport beside the Mersey River when Big Rigs spoke to him.

“I got my HC licence first and have since got a B-double licence and love my job. I deliver refrigerated, general, dangerous goods and also do Tautliner work,” he said.

A confident young man, Mitchell said he had always wanted to be a truck driver to follow in the footsteps of his role model grandfather Clem.

“He is now aged 76 and worked for De Bruyn’s Transport for a long time and is well respected in the trucking industry, something I hope to emanate one day” he said.

Mitchell who turns 27 in July, thanked Toll for giving him a chance as a driver at a young age.

“Most of the workers at the depot are aged 35 to 55 and there are a few other younger ones,” he said.

Mitchell said he would urge other companies around the country to give youngsters under 30 a go.

Whilst he is happy in his job, he said his ultimate aim a bit further down the track was to own his own truck.

“I do want to become an owner-operator in the future,” he said.

Burnie by the sea is busy with road transport traffic including many trucks which load and unload at the wharves.

“There is a lot of logging activity around here at the moment and I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” he said.

As for rest areas, Mitchell said he felt there was enough around Tasmania but quantified that statement.

“Whilst there are also plenty of pull off places there is not enough rest areas with toilets and other amenities for drivers,” he said.

But Mitchell did say there were ample roadhouses which cater for the needs of truckies.

“Along the Bass Highway there is Sassafras Roadhouse which gets a lot of trucks stopping there and also the United at Detention River out towards Smithton,” he said.

“The Epping Forest and Caltex Mood Food beside the Midland Highway are also good.”

Mitchell rates the worst road he travels on regularly as the section of the Bass Highway between Somerset to the Stanley turnoff.

“Don’t do what you can’t do there and never underestimate what other drivers will do,” he said.

Outside work Mitchell enjoys hunting for vermin animals and camping at Lake Rosebery on the West Coast.

“I have been going there since when I was a boy aged 11,” he said.

A single father of three children aged seven, six and three – Mitchell had been to his brother’s wedding two days before we spoke.

“I would recommend becoming a truck driver to any young person as the pay is good and you can make a career out of it,” he said.