26th February 2009
We are having a good summer here at Rocky Springs; rain has fallen, grass is growing and our first sorghum crop is sprinting for the sky. As a result we have been busy buying cattle to eat all the produce. Another thing keeping me busy is the process of getting my truck licence. I have passed the theory part and, with a bit more experience gained from driving the empty truck to and from town, should be right to sit the practical in the next two weeks. I still let Brian drive the truck when it is full of rocking cattle, which has proved to be a wise idea; as you will see…..
Some of the cattle we have been buying have been eating the green grass and sorghum and, not realising the consequences, have got fat. So on Tuesday afternoon Brian was behind the wheel of the truck on the way to the Inverell sales.
Ours is a 28yr-old cattle truck, a bit long in the tooth but a reliable and much used vehicle. It is about 8m long and can carry about 4800kg. It has 6 wheels – two at the front and two on each side at the back. Tuesday afternoon it was carrying about 4770kg. We got 10km from Inverell when there was an almighty BANG! This was followed by the truck swerving to the right, then 4770kg of cows lurching to the right; Brian fighting to keep it all steady and upright; not touching the brake; letting it all coast to a stop. I don’t need to describe our faces when we next drew breath.
Behind us was 200m of road littered with what was, 60 seconds previously, the two rear tyres on the right hand side. I took to clearing the road of debris while Brian contemplated our next move. The first car to stop contained two women. The driver was about 70yrs of age and the passenger must have been her mother. They did all they could for us which was to say “Good Luck” and kept on driving.
Next to stop was a bloke who leaned out the window and said “shit”. He then casually mentioned that he lived in Inverell but knew a few people “out this way” and could give us a hand. His name was Ken. I borrowed Ken’s mobile phone (we have since purchased our own) and rang our stock agent who was finishing off his day in the pub. His name was Phillip and he said he would arrange another truck to transport our cattle. Meanwhile a rival stock agent drove pass and seeing that we were in a spot of bother (and possibly sniffing an opportunity) also stopped, leant out the window, said “shit” and offered to help. His name was Richard.
There was only one spare tyre and anyway the jack wouldn’t lift the truck with 4770kg on board so Ken disappeared to acquire a tractor, I disappeared with Richard to acquire another tyre and Brian waited for Phillip and the rescue truck. Ken, Richard and I returned and still there was no news from the other team. Eventually Phillip arrived and I’m sure he must have given cheek first, because I remember the first thing I said to him was: “we found another agent while we were waiting”. In true, territorial, alpha male style, Phillip idled his car alongside Richard’s, leaned out the window and said “Piss Off”.
Before the agent chest beating got beyond friendly rivalry the rescue truck arrived and reversed up to ours. I was on traffic control while the muscles worked the cattle and later the tyres. At this stage there were two trucks taking up a lane of the road with cattle moving between, a tractor, two utes, six people and associated tyres and gear scattered about. We had out three hazard signs, it was late afternoon and still on-coming traffic did not always slow down. I hate to admit this but the worst offenders were women; so please, all my dear female friends, slow down and then slow down some more.
By 7.30pm the cows were long gone on their interrupted journey to cow heaven, our truck had six tyres again, Ken (who as it turned out not only knew a few people “out this way”, but also owned all the land from the accident site to Inverell) had returned the tractor to one of his outstations, Richard had been seen off the premises by our agent, and Phillip, Brian and I were enjoying a beer by the side of the road and watching the sun go down.
I am still booked in to get my truck licence.