Running any kind of transport operation means you are always running a risk, when it’s a small livestock and bulk operation hauling around inland NSW and Queensland, you also need the right stuff to do the job, Diesel News talked to Paul Milgate about his operation.
Paul is one of the younger operators coming through, something which the livestock game seems to have more of than the rest of the trucking industry. While other segments struggle to get anyone under 50 to drive for them, keen young boys from the country seem to keep turning up in livestock yards looking for some work.
“I’ve been out on my own for about fourteen years,” says Paul, sitting in his cabin after we meet up on the road in Coonabarabran. He is hauling a sheep-filled B-double up from the Dubbo area to Tamworth and the abattoir.“My father got to the stage where sheep carting was getting too hard for him and decided to stick to carting cattle, so that opened up an opportunity for me. We haul a lot of sheep out of Longreach and Muttaburra up in Queensland, bringing them down to re-stockers around Trangie. There’s a far bit of hard yakka which goes into it.”
Seventy-five per cent of the work Paul handles in his local area is sheep hauling. Different times of the year see phases of work come and go, periods of hauling only sheep are followed by a big demand for cattle carters.
Like his father, Paul has also had to reconsider his working life and take a small step back from the frontline of livestock hauling. These days Paul likes to keep close to home himself, if he can. This new way of working has come as a result of a frightening accident he was involved in.
“Now my drivers go to work before me and I handle any work they can’t do. I give them the opportunity to do the work they want to do and then fill in around them,” Paul says.
Paul has had to step away from some of the tougher jobs as they just don’t come as easy to him, as they have in the past. He also finds the big days tiring after being very fit and agile before the accident.
“I was a workaholic before, you couldn’t get me out of a truck,” say Paul. “Anyway, something probably had to happen, I was a pretty hard worker. It does mean I am able to work on the business a bit better. When it happened I was still like a solo driver, with my cousin helping out as a casual. He now works for me full-time.
“I’ve had to put people in my trucks. At one time, I didn’t like anyone driving my trucks, I wanted to do it myself, but I’ve had to just bite my tongue and let people do the job. Now, I like a driver to take some responsibility. We do a lot of on-farm work, from farm to farm. On that you’ve got to be able to talk to and work with the farmer, you have give them the right impression that you are going to look after their stock.”