October 22, 1998
Brian Melbourne, 33, from Ararat (Vic)
No wait, Horsham to Adelaide, T601 Kenworth
Photo taken in layby outside Horsham
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Brian had a good few tattoos and one of the first ones I noticed bore the letters AC/DC tattooed across the back of one of his hands. Being my favourite band, I thought to myself that the two of us might just get along.
Making small talk once we were in the truck I mentioned his AC/DC tattoo, so he slapped a tape into the stereo and we AC/DC-ied our way up the highway.
This mutual regard for the musical talents of Australia’s foremost hard rock band led to an instant form of respect for one another and we discussed them at length.
I settled back and soon observed that the cabin of his rig was very much his domain and he worked it like a master craftsman.
Moving between the various CB’s, his phone and the stereo, he kept one of his hands planted firmly on the steering wheel at all times while firing off bursts of conversation at me or one of the other truckies out there on the airwaves.
“This one’s a complete wanker,” or, “That one’s okay,” he would mutter sideways at me, depending on which truckie was on the air at any given point.
He swore like a trooper but it was in no way offensive – it suited him.
Just as most people tend to have a refined telephone voice compared to their normal voice, Brian went the other way when he was on the CB and his voice became noticeably rougher and coarser, as if he had been drinking a bottle of whisky every day for 15 years.
I soon learnt that Brian’s entry into life was rather inauspicious.
He was born somewhere in Broadmeadows and left at the Broadmeadows babies home by his natural mother.
Adopted at seven weeks, Brian never had the inclination to search for his natural mum because he considered his adoptive parents to be his real parents.
As we barrelled up the highway he put in a call to his daughter as it was her birthday (I think she was nine).
Listening to him talk to her it was obvious he missed her more than he let on, because his usual gruff overtones took on a new softness and there was real affection in his voice.
No swearing either.
When his wife got on the phone he introduced himself as the ‘new super model of Australia’ as I’d just taken his photo (when it had come time to photograph Brian, he proved to be a natural). His wife immediately put in an order for a copy of the book.
Like horse racing, I was to learn that ‘trucking’ had a language all of its own. The term ‘a dollar’ this, or ‘a dollar’ that, kept popping up in conversation and it turned out that it was common truckie language to talk about speed in monetary value, so that ‘a dollar twenty’ equated to 120km/h, and so on.
As a thankyou I bought him dinner at Bordertown (SA/Vic border) and we sat about with a few other truckies as they also ate their dinner.
What a bunch of gossips they turned out to be! The rough and tumble image went out the window as they sat around swapping gossipy tidbits over a great big plateful of schnitzel, sausages, toast and chips (smothered in gravy), using an expletive as every other word during their discussions.
At times, even the Picture Post being passed around took a back seat, despite the ‘naked delights’ within. There was some serious gossip on offer, after all!