Truckie’s new adventure down under

When Janine Hanson, 37, moved from England to Australia 10 years ago, the plan was to continue working as a podiatrist – but the lure of the outback was calling.

These days you’ll find her pulling 300 tonne triple side tippers at the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory.

Working for MLG, from behind the wheel of a Kenworth C510, Hanson transports gold ore between the underground mine and a crushing plant. Once the gold is extracted from the rock, a by-product is carted back to the mine, where it is made into concrete.

“Gold ore is very heavy. It’s about 300 tonne fully loaded. They’re manual trucks, so when you’re driving with those sorts of weights, and tipping off those sorts of weights, there’s a bit of skill involved in it too,” Hanson said, as she waited for her flight home from the Granites Airport.

MLG offers a range of training and upskilling programs for experienced drivers looking to break into the mining industry.

Hanson is a FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) worker and operates on a two-week on, one-week off schedule. She lives in Brisbane and works in the Northern Territory. “It’s long days and hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Hanson does one week of day shifts and one week of night shifts. “I actually enjoy the night shift, especially in the summer because it’s a lot cooler at night and you don’t get all the flies either!”

When Big Rigs asked what led to her career change, Hanson explained, “I came over here with my ex-husband, then my marriage broke down and I became quite independent. That was when I realised how much I hated looking at people’s feet all day. I love being outdoors, love being out and about, and enjoy meeting people. I ride motorbikes too and love being on the road.”

So, she saw truck driving as the perfect next step. And she’s never looked back.

Hanson completed her open HR licence four years ago and found work driving a side loader to transport 20ft containers from the Port of Brisbane. After 12 months, she upgraded to her MC.

“At the Port of Brisbane, I got a bit of a name for myself as I was one of the only females driving a side loader there at the time. Once I got my MC, I progressed to semi and double side loaders and did that for about 18 months, before coming out here,” she said.

“My end goal was to eventually be pulling road trains, driving in the outback – that’s what brought me here. I love being out on the road and seeing such beautiful parts of the country. I saw wild camels out here for the first time a few weeks ago, there were six of them on the road and then they ran into the bush.”

Hanson joined MLG around nine months ago, starting as a semi water cart driver, before progressing into triple road trains, which she’s been driving for the past three months.

“I’ve been keeping up with the boys – and I can change my own tyres too. Out here they’ve all been fully supportive of me and I’m really proud of how I’ve proved myself. The boys out here are like a family and I’ve experienced nothing but positivity from everyone I’ve worked with. A lot of truck drivers would stop to talk to me and are curious about where I came from.

“MLG has been fantastic. The vibe we have out here is quite good, it’s like a big family.”

“I enjoy being accepted as a woman doing this job and being accepted as part of the team. The boys were saying this morning that I’m just one of the bros.”

Hanson got her Australian citizenship five years ago. Late last year she headed back to England to visit her family and friends. “A lot of them think I’m strange for doing the sort of work I’m doing, it’s completely alien to my family. I was a podiatrist and before that my parents had nursing homes, so I came from a medical and nursing background. Even though we’re close, I’ve always been the odd ball in the family!

“I never would have thought in a million years that I’d end up driving triple road trains in the outback, but I absolutely adore my job and definitely see myself driving trucks until the day I retire.”

MLG is a founder led business with over 800 employees, proudly servicing Australia’s largest resources companies in WA and NT for over 20 years. MLG offers a range of training and upskilling programs for experienced road train drivers and drivers looking to break into the mining industry.

MLG will embark on an East Coast Road Show from July 31 to August 6, visiting Townsville, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and Brisbane before heading to New South Wales and Tasmania later in the year. 

This article originally appeared on Big Rigs.

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