Riding shotgun with James

Rochelle heads out with James from Croskery Contracting in Masterton to learn all about what a day in the life of a trucker really looks like.

It’s still pitch black when I arrive at the Croskery’s yard before sunrise at 6.30am to meet up with James Sladden. I am given a hi-vis vest and we head to his truck, a 2018 Volvo FM500. The first thing he does is a safety check, walking around the truck checking his tyres. We climb in and while the truck is warming up, James starts his logbook for the day.

We head over to a pile of crushed metal (stones) where James parks the truck and climbs into the loader and loads his truck with 26 tonnes of 65ml metal.

Once loaded we drive two hours to Tora Beach, South Wairarapa. The views are stunning and when we arrive the sun is rising across the bay above the hills – so beautiful, something I don’t get to see every day!

James has been working at Croskery’s for two years, previously he was working at a quarry, Taweru Lime Works, in Masterton for 20 years. He has always loved trucks and as soon as he was old enough, he got his HT licence at 16 years of age. James loves being out and about seeing the country and enjoys the different challenges this kind of work offers.

At Tora Beach the truck was unloaded trailer first onto the muddy gravel road while the truck was driven very slowly forward. A digger followed, spreading the metal. From there we continued down the hill and turned the truck around and headed back up the slippery slope and emptied the truck bin. Then we got stuck! With some clever driving skills and some help from a digger pushing us from behind, we were on our way again very quickly. Our next stop was Peter Warren Aggregates, Featherston. The first thing James did was fill in some paperwork, this is to sign in to say he’s on site. Here we were loaded again with 65ml metal, but this time it was loaded for us. We then headed back to Tora to unload. This time James unloaded the trailer then drove back up the hill and unhooked the trailer and went back down, truck only, to unload the bin to ensure we didn’t get stuck again.

The reason we are taking the metal to Tora is because they are putting in a culvert. This is a large pipe that runs under the road to let the water flow and prevent flooding. The metal we are laying is covering the culvert – a very important part of keeping our roads safe and usable for motorists. It may sound simple but it’s a big job that includes lots of different types of workers including a traffic management team that needs to ensure the road is clear for the truck, as it is a very narrow dirt road that can only allow vehicles travelling in one direction at a time.

We head back to Featherston to load up again and take one last load to Tora. From there we then head to Ahiaruhe River, Carterton. Here James jumps on the loader and fills up both bins, truck and trailer with river run (stones of all shapes and sizes) that we take back to Masterton and unload at the Croskery yard to be processed. That means the stones will be broken down to rough rubble to be used for future jobs.

It is about 5.30pm when we fuel up the truck and park up, it’s now knock off time. James completes his logbook and paperwork for the day. It was a great day learning about what James does in his Volvo and what Croskery Contracting is all about. Not only does James have a cool job driving trucks AND machinery, but he gets to see some hidden gems and amazing scenery in and around the Wairarapa region!

The great red road trip

Holidays are great aren’t they! If your job is taking photos and writing about trucks, then what better way to spend some time off than to take photos and write about trucks!

It is hard for me to work out the difference between my job and my passion. There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life. You should all remember that.

Every five years my mate Craig McCauley and I go on a road trip in Australia to remember a great friend who died 15 years ago. Guy Spurr loved trucks. He was a well-known photographer and writer in the industry. If you look back in the New Zealand Trucking magazine, you will find his wonderful stories to read. Guy loved the Australian road train scene, cattle trucks in particular, so we always remember him by going to one of the places he (and we) love most. The Australian Outback. This year, we had Rob van der Hoek and Dave Connor along for the ride. Great mates and first-rate truck photographers.

The Outback

Firstly, what is the Australian Outback? The outback is the name given to the huge interior of Australia where there are not many people, but a whole lot of land and space. It contains desert, national parks, and huge pastoral (grazing) farms and stations.

The outback is also the traditional home of Australia’s famous truck and multi-trailer rigs known as road trains! Most commonly, a road train is a tractor and semi-trailer combination towing a second trailer (called a double), often a third trailer (called a triple – most popular), or even four trailers (a quad). There are lots of different ways the trailers can be connected, and different weights and lengths too. The classic triple combination is normally 53.5m long and with the right permits they can operate at 124.5 tonnes GCM. GCM stands for Gross Combination Mass and refers to the weight of both the rig and its load. On one part of our trip we went to see 59.5m quad combinations able to carry up to 120 tonnne of product.

I’ve included a map of our road trip, and the red line shows you where we went.

One of the giant Wagners quad units on its way to Bing Bong in the remote Northern Territory

Our trip started in Mt Isa, a big mining town in western Queensland. We then went to Cloncurry for a couple of days and caught up with some close friends before travelling east to Julia Creek for a day photographing trucks there. Julia Creek is on the Flinders highway that runs between Cloncurry and Townsville. A lot of freight, fuel, and cattle are trucked on that road!

Do you have Issue 2 of Little Trucker Down Under in your collection? Have a look at the Pratt family’s cool truck on both the cover and on the poster of that issue. Where did it come from? That’s right, Julia Creek!

We then travelled 1329km from Cloncurry in Queensland to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The first 792km took us across the Barkly highway to a famous road house called ‘Three Ways’. It is located where the East/West Barkly highway meets the North/ South Stuart highway. From there we travelled 537kn south to Alice Springs. That one trip was the same as travelling from Auckland to Wellington and back, or Christchurch to Invercargill almost two and half times! Crikey! The car was puffing and needed a rest at the end of that!

See if you can find that part of the trip on the map. It will show you just how huge Australia is.

At Alice Springs we visited the National Road Transport Museum and the Kenworth Dealer Hall of Fame. I had never been, so it was a huge thrill for me.

While there, I was finally able to see the restored Rotinoff Viscount cattle truck on display – a real bucket list thing for me. Vesty Brothers bought two identical Rotinoff Viscount trucks in the late 1950s – one named Jackie and one named Julie. The trucks were famous early cattle road trains able to carry more cattle at a quicker speed – about 50km/h believe it or not – with new levels of driver comfort. I have always been interested in these two trucks, and what a thrill it was to actually sit in a Rotinoff Viscount. Sadly, only one could be restored, and poor old Jackie had to donate her bits and pieces so Julie can sit proudly in the museum today. It’s great to know one of the trucks is safe and sound, even if she doesn’t have her cattle crates on any more.

There is so much truck and road train history at the museum. Make sure it is on your ‘bucket list’ for when you are a little older! It is a must see.

After Alice Springs we motored north up the Stuart Highway toward Darwin. Word had gotten out that we were on the road taking photos and the truck drivers tooted, flashed lights, and waved. The outback is a friendly and welcoming place, full of great people.

When we were north of the Three Ways roadhouse again, we had a cool assignment to complete.

In 1987, a special truck won the Australian Truckin’ Life magazine Rig of the Year competition. It was a V8 Mack Super-Liner named Blue Thunder, owned by Kiwi-born Neville Dobbs. It hauled refrigerated trailers between Adelaide and Darwin for Northern Territory Freight Services (NTFS). We were all younger back then, and the famous poster of Blue Thunder, taken at a place called Churchill’s Head on the Stuart highway captured the hearts of all of us young ‘truckers’! Our good mate Carl Kirkbeck recently built a model of Blue Thunder by reconstructing the Highway Replicas NTFS Mack road train model. He lent us the finished Blue Thunder model to bring on our road trip so we could take its photo at Churchill’s Head – just like in the 1987 poster.

The Stuart Highway bypasses Churchill’s Head now, but the old road is still there, today just a sideroad. What a thrill it was to find Churchill’s Head and retake the great photo. A truly fantastic moment.

Next was the 360km side trip up the Carpentaria highway to capture those big 60 metre long and 240 tonne ore carting road trains I talked about. Owned by Wagners, the road trains cart their loads 120km from the McArthur River mine to the port at a place called Bing Bong (truly, it is called Bing Bong). Have you found it on the map yet?

There was one more special place I wanted to see. Remember those Rotinoff Viscount cattle road trains from the 1950s on display at the National Road Transport Museum? Those trucks were used to cart cattle from the Maryville road train compound at Helen Springs Station in the Northern Territory to Comooweal in Queensland. The old compound is still there, and I stood right where the Rotinoffs would have loaded. What a trip this was!

From there we travelled on to the town of Katherine. It is here the main road from West Australia, called the Victoria Highway, meets the Stuart Highway. This makes Katherine another busy meeting place for trucks. It was also home to one of Australia’s most famous outback truck companies – Buntine Roadways, founded by the late Noel Buntine.

Our wonderful holiday ended in Darwin, where we spent three days photographing the trucks rolling in and out of Australia’s northernmost city. What a wonderful holiday, following my passion for trucks with fantastic mates.

Just think, one day you too will be able to go on a cool road trip somewhere with great friends and take photographs of amazing trucks. I’ll look forward to reading about it.

Ruby's best trucking adventure

So last year about July, we decided it was time to start getting the Ultraliner ready for the 50 Years of Mack show. My whole family and I (Mum, Reece and my sister Lucy) spent many hours down at the truck yard polishing wheels, bumpers, the diesel tank and so much more.

The old girl then went for a quick trip to Dunedin where Terry at Custom Signs tidied up the sign writing. Reece told me he was going to get my name on the passenger door. I didn’t believe him, until he sent me a photo. Oh my gosh, how cool is this!!!

So in September Reece and I hit the road. We left home in Balclutha and were heading to Tauranga. We picked up some bulls in Hawarden and headed to Picton. We had three hours to wait in Picton so we had a short sleep in the cab. Then at 1am we drove onto the big ferry ramp. First time I’d been on the ferry!! Once we parked the truck we headed to our room for some sleep.

Nearly four hours later we arrived in Wellington. Once we got the truck off the ferry we headed up the road to the Matamau Diner for breakfast. They have walls of truck photos, it’s awesome! After we left the diner we headed up the road to Hastings where we unloaded the bulls to their new home.

After unloading we headed to Taupō, which is another three hours up the road. We stayed in Taupō that night, and the next morning we carried on up the way to Tauranga. We dropped our truck off where they repaired and painted the crate.

We then got a hire car and headed to the Waikato to do some soil testing on a farm for my step dad’s other business, Highland Nutrition. Check out the photo of me holding the impressive clover and plantain.

Once we’d finished soil testing we drove to the airport and flew back home.

50 Years of Mack Truck Show

Thursday 20 October
Reece and I got up super early, drove to the airport and flew to Tauranga to pick up our freshly painted truck. Only to arrive there and find the signwriting hadn’t been done. Our stomachs dropped to our feets, this was a nightmare! After a lot of stress and some fast phone calls, Cliff and the guys at Sign Art did us a massive favour and got the crate signwritten for us. Wahoo!

Friday 21 October
Mum and my sister Lucy flew from Dunedin to Palmerston North to meet us. Reece and I got in the truck and drove down to Palmerston North. We all arrived around dinner time and settled into our motel for an early night.

Saturday 22 October
We had another early start. Today is SHOW DAY!! We had to head to Motor Truck Distributors where all the trucks met, so we could travel to the show in convoy.

It was a massive convoy with around 180 trucks. We drove to the Manfield Raceway where the parade was held. There were around 200 trucks there. It was amazing! All Macks, all shining, all so cool!

When the parade was over we went back to the motel to get ready for the dinner and speeches. I was getting tired so I sat in the corner and did some sketching. Glenn and Julie Allingham from Jaks Trucks were the owners of the winning truck.

The next day Mum and Lucy flew home. Reece and I went to Felding saleyards for a photoshoot. The following day we cruised around Palmerston North and for a look through the Motor Truck Distributors workshop where the Macks used to be built. We caught up with National Sales manager Stu Wynd.

Then headed to Bulls for the next day’s work.

This was a super early start. We carted heifers to the port of Nelson for a live export. I had a few naps throughout the day.

We stayed in Levin for the night then went back on the ferry the next morning. We then picked up calves and took them to Culverden. The following morning we loaded steers at Scargill and took them to Makikihi.

Next, we’re homeward bound… PHEW!! What an epic trip.

Specialised carriers moving the world's finest cars

Our local Aussie reporter Mike Williams speaks to the team at Alan’s Unique Car Carriers in NSW and checks out their cool truck fleet.

Meet my mate’s fleet! Alan Norton runs a small fleet of very special trucks and he moves some very special freight. It’s not every day we get to see what’s inside the purpose-built covered car transporters.

Alan’s Unique Car Carriers is based in Erina, which is a small town on the coast about half way between Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales. From there, Alan and his drivers go all over Australia moving some of the world’s finest and possibly most expensive automobiles.

Just having a look at the pictures, there’s a few cars I wish I could sneak into my garage. What would you like if you could have one or get one for Mum or Dad? Would you choose the Ferrari or maybe that Lamborghini? Would it be the custom pickup or the vintage Ford? What about the black hard top or the very famous and very rare Peter Brock VK Commodore beast? If it’s out of the cars, I’d the white one, the McLaren, what a true beast of a car.

But really I’m a truck guy, so I reckon I’d pick one of those Scania R450s. That’s the go. Wouldn’t it be great to drive one of those and move some cars all over Australia. It’s amazing what you can find being moved about by trucks.

Stay safe out there, and happy truckin’!

Truck Show Galore

Dustin’s had a pretty busy couple of months checking out some awesome truck shows – from the bottom of the South Island in New Zealand all the way over to Aussie!

I was lucky enough to go down south to Wanaka, for the Wheels at Wanaka Vintage Car, Truck and Tractor Show. It was so cool – there was so much old and new gear there, a little bit of everything for everyone, like tractors, trucks, cars, motorbikes and earthmoving machinery – if it had tracks or wheels it was there!

The thing I was most looking forward to seeing was the Dynes K220, which is a new model for Kenworth. The thing I liked most about it was the paint and the detail, which made it look really flash.

When the trucks went around the big ring, all the trucks were tooting their horns for the kids. I was also lucky enough to go for a lap in a V8 Mack Super-Liner. There was also a great big Caterpillar dump truck there, it has a payload of 177 tonnes, which is the same as 29 elephants – holy hecka.

The next Wheels at Wanaka is in 2024, you should go check it out!

I also jetted off to Australia for the Brisbane Truck Show, which was so different because they only had new gear there. We went on a Wednesday and we were walking around and got to see a sneak peak of some trucks going into the show. We even got to talk to some drivers, which was cool. When I first walked in there was a brand new Mack sitting there with a nice black bullbar. As we stood there looking at it we thought about what it might spend its life doing – carting stock, grain, food, fuel or even dump trucks for the mines in the outback. There was so much to see, we even saw the Little Trucker stand and had a great talk with the team, it was great to see them. My favorite truck was the Lawrence Transport Kenworth Legend SAR. It definitely left me thinking I want to go drive over there when I am older. How about you Little Truckers? Stay safe and keep having fun out there.



Truckies pulls through for birthday boy Ollie

Here at Little Trucker Down Under, we love how much all our mates love trucks! And we think that all of the amazing people in our trucking community are the very best part of this industry (well, except for the trucks!). The heart and kindness of our trucking community was really put on show recently, when everyone came together to celebrate the birthday of seven-year-old Ollie Johnson in Hamilton.

Ollie’s parents had posted on Facebook asking for a truck ride for truck-obsessed Ollie to help celebrate his birthday. But the sector came through with no less than 64 trucks answering their call.

Ollie’s mother had offered $50 to anyone willing to take her son for a ride in their truck for his birthday. She said Ollie was feeling lonely and hoped a ride in a truck would cheer him up.

“All he wants to do is be a truck driver. He is just obsessed,” she says.

After seeing the post, Hart Haulage owner Barry Hart thought he could do better than just one truck ride, and began planning a truck convoy just for Ollie.

Barry put a call out on social media and 64 drivers turned up for Ollie’s birthday convoy.

“It’s the norm for truckers and our industry. It’s why we love this industry,” Barry says. Some truckers travelled more than 120km in their big rigs to take part.

“For all the guys to come along, it’s pretty cool,” Barry says.

The convoy grouped and started from the Hart Haulage yard near Huntington in Hamilton. It ran down the Waikato Expressway to Hautapu, finishing up at the yards of C&R Developments.

C&R Developments opened up its car and machinery museum for everyone to enjoy, while Service Foods Ltd provided hot food and cold beverages via a food truck stall for the crowds that were there.

There were approximately 250 to 300 people at the event.

Mum Katherine, who put up the original Facebook post, says Ollie was brought up around trucks.

“We are so grateful. This story has gone around the world, we are so humbled,” she says.

Dad Simon said the industry really came together.

“Thank you doesn’t cover what happened today,” he says.

“A lot of people have gone to a lot of effort to make today happen, and it’s those people who couldn’t be here who have helped us along the way, we really want to say thank you.

“And thank you to Hart Haulage, who has been on the same page the whole journey, we are just so grateful.”

And Ollie’s favourite truck of the show? A C509 Kenworth. He even had a go at blasting the horn.

Happy birthday Ollie, from all your friends at Little Trucker Down Under.

Classic Bacon and Egg Pie

Nothing beats a classic bacon and egg pie


  • 3 sheets of store-bought puff pastry. The quantity will depend a little on the size of your pie dish.
  • ½ onion (finely diced)
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • 150g bacon
  • Approximately 10 eggs, whisked


  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Line a pie dish with defrosted puff pastry, making sure it comes well up the sides.
  3. Sprinkle half the grated cheese over the base of the pastry.
  4. Sprinkle the diced onion on top of the cheese.
  5. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Layer half of the bacon pieces over the grated cheese and onion.
  6. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then pour the mixture into the pie dish.
  7. Reserve a little so you can brush an egg wash over the pastry top for a lovely golden finish.
  8. Add the remaining bacon on top of the eggs, followed by the rest of the grated cheese.
  9. Top the pie with pastry, make sure the edges seal well. Crimp the sides together with your fingers.
  10. You can decorate the top of the pie with shapes made from any pastry off cuts.
  11. Lightly brush the pie reserved whisked egg or a little with milk. Prick the pie a few times with a knife or fork for air holes.
  12. Bake as per the instructions on your store-bought pastry, usually for 35 mins at 200 degrees celsius.

Quick Morning Pizza

There’s nothing better than pizza for breakfast!


  • 2 eggs
  • Handful of tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • Handful of cheese
  • (Or choose whatever toppings you like, such as onions or ham)


  1. Whisk eggs in a small bowl
  2. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray. Heat the pan over medium heat.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the pan. With a spatula, gently push cooked portions towards the centre. Tilt and rotate pan to allow the uncooked egg to flow into empty spaces.
  4. Top the egg with mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese. Cover and cook until eggs are set and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Slide pizza onto a plate and enjoy!

Simple Egg Wraps

Egg wraps are the perfect meal to take on the go.


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
  • 4 cheddar slices (or cheese of choice)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach or lettuce
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 4 ham slices


  1. Whisk eggs, water, salt and pepper.
  2. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray or butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Pour in half of the egg mixture to form a thin layer along the bottom of the pan, like an omelette.
  4. As the eggs set around the edge of the pan, gently push the cooked portions toward the centre of the pan with a spatula. Tilt and rotate the pan to allow uncooked egg to flow into empty spaces. Ask a grown up for help.
  5. When the egg is cooked, remove the omelette to a cutting board.
  6. Layer cheese, spinach or lettuce, avocado, and ham down the centre of the egg omelette.
  7. Roll the egg omelette like a wrap, cut in half, and enjoy!

Magic slushies



  • 1 and ½ cups of fruit – chopped and frozen (try strawberries, blueberries or mango)
  • Half a cup of cold water
  • Some soda water and a couple drops of food colouring (if you choose)


  1. Add the fruit and water to a food processor, blender or mix with a stick blender Add a couple of drops of food colouring if you want to change the colour
  2. Blend until smooth and pour mixture into a glass
  3. Add some soda water into the glass for a bubbly treat if desired

Serve immediately!



All you need is ice, salt, juice, and a couple of Ziploc bags


  • 6 cups ice cubes (or enough to fill about half a large Ziplock bag)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Kosher salt or table salt
  • 1 cup of your favourite juice Some soda water and a couple drops of food colouring (if you choose)


  1. Place ice cubes and salt in an large Ziploc bag
  2. Place juice, soda water and food colouring in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag, press out all the air and seal tightly. Make sure it’s sealed properly – otherwise salt will get in and it won’t taste good!
  3. Place the small bag of juice INSIDE the larger bag of ice and salt and seal it up
  4. The larger bag will be holding the ice, salt, and the separate baggie of juice
  5. Shake the bag for about 3-5 minutes or until the juice gets slushy. If your hands get cold, wrap a tea towel around the bag or use gloves and continue shaking
  6. Pour slushy into a cup and serve immediately