“I was never destined to be a truck driver. I came from an academic family that expected me to do medicine or law,” said Natalie Kascak, while driving a quad road train down the Great Northern Highway in WA.
She was bound for the Wonmunna Mine, to pick up 110 tonne of iron ore.
Following her family’s hopes, Kascak went to university to study Medical Science. “I took two years off and bought a truck with an ex-partner and we did the V8 Supercars circuit, then I went back to uni,” said the 33-year-old South Australian.
Kascak also got her truck licence when she was 18 and her MC licence five years later.
She completed her degree and spent six months working as a paramedic in Townsville, but soon the road came calling.
“When my grandmother got sick, I came back home to help look after her and fell back into trucking in 2015,” she recalled.
Around 14 months ago, Kascak and her partner Nathan Tucker, made the move out west to drive quads, full-time, out of Port Hedland.
“My partner and I share a 2018 Mack Titan, carting iron ore from the mines to the ports. I go to work for 12 hours, then we’ll see each other at the depot and he does his 12-hour shift. It’s 12 days on and two days off,” she explained.
“The truck is very comfortable and has decent air con in the bush. We look after it. We’ve both owned our own trucks before so we’re very pedantic about maintenance.
“Nathan and I moved here for the job and I go back to Adelaide whenever I can. I was employed by a fuel company in Adelaide so when I go back, I drive the fuel tankers for them and I love that. Fuel tankers is my niche.
“We moved to Port Hedland for a bit of a lifestyle change. We both like the remote outback sort of stuff and enjoy going fishing on our time off.”
The Munjina Range is among Kascak’s favourite places to travel to. “There are very high cliffs and when it rains, the water runs down the rocks and the sun changes the colours of the rocks,” she said.
When asked what she enjoys most about the job, Kascak was quick to reply. “The freedom. There’s a boss in the yard but once you leave the yard, you need to rely on your tools, your knowledge and your common sense, and you’re your own boss. The scenery up here is amazing and it always changes.”
While parts of the outback are undeniably beautiful, others leave a lot to be desired. Kascak rates the Roy Hill Road as one of the worst she gets along. “It’s a very narrow bitumen road that drops off into bits of dirt. There’s so many potholes and the road changes with the weather. If a truck comes the other way, you really need to be on the ball.”
Along with trucking and medicine, Kascak has added driver training to her resume too. She is currently studying her Certificate IIII in Training and Assessment.
“I love learning,” she confessed. “I’ve done other medical jobs along the way too so I can keep a finger in the pie. I might go back to being a paramedic one day. Now I’m looking to go back to uni to do more study too. But I think I’ll always be driving trucks.”
And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Kascak is also the chair of Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA). “I try and network with other females to get more drivers into the industry. I’m pretty active and passionate about that.”