“That Titan’s a magic truck, never let us down.”
Straw Jones Transport haul cattle in road trains and B-doubles from farms all over Queensland. It’s hard work that needs tough trucks, in this case Macks.
“We started with the one truck, and over the years we’ve gradually expanded,” says Straw, whose fleet includes a 2003 Titan and a brand-new Mack Super-Liner.
“My dad was a big Mack fan,” says Straw, “he basically brainwashed us from an early age, so when we saw the need for a new truck this year the Super-Liner was our first choice.”
Five days a week
Straw drives the Super-Liner five days a week and clearly loves every minute of it.
“It’s a super-comfortable truck,” he says, “the ride’s so good it’s like driving a motor car. Like a lot of other people I was sceptical about the mDRIVE at first, but it’s unbelievable, just so much easier on the driver.”
And 1,000 kilometres a day
Driver comfort is important to Straw, because he and his crew regularly travel 1,000 kilometres a day.
“We start at 4am,” he says, “set up the trailer configuration we need, drive out to the cattle station and load up, then head straight to the meatworks.”
Straw’s trucks operate as double and triple road trains and as B-double combinations when they have to travel to destinations such as Brisbane, where weight and length configurations are restricted.
Anywhere there’s a meatworks
“We go all over eastern Queensland,” he says, “Brisbane, Mackay, Townsville, Rockhampton, anywhere there’s meatworks basically. It’s about 50% paved, 50% dirt roads, because we get a lot of work out of Islay Plains and it’s all dirt out there. The roads are improving, but slowly.”
A typical triple road train will carry a load of 120 bullocks—20 per deck on three double-decked trailers—and Straw’s drivers will often use all the allowable driving hours getting to their destination.
“When we go to Rockhampton we can usually get there and back in a day,” says Straw, “but if it’s Brisbane you’re not going to make it back home again.”
Reliability is king
When carrying a live cargo, a breakdown is a disaster, and Straw’s been impressed with the reliability of the Macks.
“That old Titan’s been going strong for a decade now, she’s a bloody magic old truck, never let us down. I really like the SCR MP10 engine on the Super-Liner too, the Ad Blue takes a bit of getting used to, but we just buy it in bulk in pods and we never run out. It’s definitely a more reliable system than the EGR we’ve got in some of the other trucks.”
Drought and business both go in cycles
Over the last year Straw’s been flat out, but as they’re now in the midst of a drought, the stations in the area are starting to run out of water and grass, so he expects next year might be a bit quieter.
“These things go in cycles,” says Straw, “but it’ll pick up, and the way my Super-Liner is going I’d say we’ll end up with a few more of them before too long.”