Local truck driver Rick Hetherington is helping sustain the future of an industry in dire need of more young drivers.
It’s a relaxed, social industry. I’ve made a few lifelong friends out of it all.Rick Hetherington
The 31-year-old is a finalist in this year’s Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association Young Driver of the Year awards, and said the key to being a good driver is being organised.
“You’ve got to plan. Like on a hot day you don’t want the livestock out in the heat too long,” he said.
“You have to manage fatigue, and make sure you eat good tucker. If you eat rubbish you’ll feel like rubbish, so food is important.”
His employers at CJ Maddern Transport in Bega, Matt and Lyndal Maddern, said in just three years Mr Hetherington has become the face of the company.
“It’s a hard industry to get into,” Ms Maddern said.
“Drivers need experience, but it’s hard experience to get, and the insurance costs are so high because you’re moving such expensive cargo.”
She said the region’s narrow roads also mean many drivers will refuse to drive into the Bega Valley.
“A lot of young drivers won’t drive the narrow roads,” she said.
“Many drivers will stop at either Cooma or Braidwood.
“Up and down the coast isn’t an easy road.”
Mr Hetherington had a busy time during last year’s drought, moving hay from South Australia and Victoria to help out local farmers.
He said it can at times be an isolating job, which means everyone in the industry helps each other out, and drivers find different ways to entertain themselves.
“I listen to a lot of music, a lot of new country music,” he said.
“I always get into a bit of singing late at night, and I sound better when I’m by myself,” he added with a laugh.
“It’s a relaxed, social industry. I’ve made a few lifelong friends out of it all.”
Mr Hetherington has also helped develop new safety conditions for drivers and livestock, including newly designed trailers.
“I’m trying to help improve the industry with my input as a driver and former beef farmer,” he said.