Tony is one of Australia’s oldest truckies
SEPTUAGENARIAN Tony Foster is still going strong driving cattle trains at an age where many people have retired from their job.
Tony drives a Western Star for Charters Towers based Footy's Livestock Transport Carriers and was preparing to unload cattle at Townsville Port when Big Rigs saw him.
"They are being unloaded onto the vessel 'Ocean Drover' and are going to Vietnam and Indonesia," Tony said.
At age 70, Tony is superfit and loves the job which he had done for much of his life.
"I used to have my own company called Foster's Livestock Transport which I sold to Footy's about 20 years ago."
Tony now works as a relief driver and is particularly busy when live cattle are exported through Townsville Port.
"I picked up about 130 head onto the four deck trailer from the cattle holding and spelling yards out at Reid River. They came from different properties," he said.
Reid River is about 60km west of Townsville beside the Flinders Highway.
When he was near the Townsville Port, Tony was parked up waiting for his turn to unload his stock.
"They only allow two trucks to unload at once," he said.
From across Townsville's Ross Creek, Big Rigs snapped some pics of trucks unloading onto the Ocean Drover.
After that Tony was heading out to Julago to load up more cattle.
Born at outback Winton, Tony said there were a number of roadhouses around the north which catered well for truckies.
"The Puma Gold City at Charters Towers caters for us drivers. Also there is lots of space for big trucks with the parking area next to it is full most nights," he said.
Tony rates the highway between Emerald and Charters Towers as rough in many places.
"There is a lot of narrow bitumen and the 400km stretch between Clermont and Charters Towers only has the Belyando Crossing Roadhouse along it and not much else," he said.
I mentioned to Tony that the highway from Winton to Boulia was about the same length and was boring to drive.
"The only place along that for us is the Middleton Pub," he said.
Tony said he enjoyed the camaradie amongst drivers especially the ones in his generation who are still active.
"I have many friends and there are a lot of older drivers still poking along," he said.
However Tony said there were not that many younger drivers transporting cattle.
"Also I have never seen a women driver hauling cattle," he said.
Quietly spoken Tony is healthy but is still aware he is in the high risk age bracket regarding coronavirus.
"As long as we follow the rules such as social distancing and washing hands the risk is lower," he said.
When he is not working Tony loves time on his small farm which is 18km east of Charters Towers.
Tony and his wife also love taking trips in their caravan but that has been put on hold until the coronavirus Pandemic Crisis passes.
Overall though Tony said he will still be driving cattle trucks for as long as he physically can.
"I still get plenty of laughs and the people are great," he said.