For the past 40 years, Graeme Newman has lived his life on the open road, taking in the sunrise and sunset from the cab of his trusty four decker.
But the time has come for the livestock transporter to enjoy them from a comfy chair parked out the front of his and his wife Susan’s caravan, as he hangs up his truck driving hat and enters retirement.
Getting his start in the industry in the 1980s carting cattle for someone else, it didn’t take long before he got the itch to start a company of his own.
In 1987 he bought a UDCK45 from a mate and never looked back.
“After that, it just took off,” Graeme said.
Based in Australind and working for Dardanup Butchering Company for the past 33 years, the father of three and grandfather of four has seen more of WA’s countryside than most.
“We started Midland (Sale Yards) to DBC ... then we started venturing out a little bit to the Great Southern — Williams, Pingelly, Dumbleyung, Darkin, Margaret River,” he said.
“Then we started down round Jerramungup, Newdegate, Wellstead and all down through there.”
But after tens of thousands of kilometres, the truck that started it all needed to retire.
“The old UD used to find hills in straights, she was a pretty underpowered diesel,” he laughed. “... That was a good old truck — you know three loads out of Midland in a day was pretty hard work.”
Graeme said his company — GE & SI Newman Livestock Transporters — grew as DBC grew and with his days growing busier carting more and more sheep, he needed to upgrade his wheels, in 1992 buying his first four-decker.
While today’s truckies are no stranger to early mornings and long days life on the road was a little different back then.
Back in them days you never had anything like icepacks, air-conditioners for your bunks or anything like that. So you’d have the windows down, the mozzies would eat you all night so you’d be slapping them and sweating and hot as hell, but you used to just do it, it was just part of it.
And while he loved the peacefulness of pulling up roadside to camp the night solo, the affable truckie made many meaningful friendships far and wide.
Out there it’s good. You know everyone ... and everyone’s helpful if you’re crook or if something happens you all jump in and help each other out.
“You ring up the same blokes all the time, ‘Yeah alright, we’ve got brekkie on’, or, ‘We’ve got a cup a coffee’. That’ll be the hardest part — missin’ those blokes, having a chat about football and all those sorts of things.”
But he said now was “about time” he closed that chapter.
“I’d still like to keep going but if I don’t make the break now it’s not going to happen until they cart me off in a box or a fall off the truck,” he laughed.
Graeme has also been heavily involved in the Harvey- Brunswick-Leschenault Football Club, as a player, coach and committee member over the years.
Looking ahead, he said he would tidy up the house, plan a trip in the caravan and spend time with the grandkids, no doubt sharing many stories and fond memories of life on the road.
I wouldn’t change it for anything, I enjoyed it.
“You know, some days you weren’t having a shower for a day or two and eating hamburgers and food you shouldn’t be eating,” he laughed. “But nah, I wouldn’t change it.”