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Across Our Land
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Bitumen, dirt, mud and plenty of it, trucking legend Matthew Cook wouldn't have it any other way.

So what motivates a father of three, small business owner and trucking enthusiast to saddle up his prized Kenworth and drive from the family home in Mandurah to central Australia?

An expedition across unpredictable country, in one of the wettest seasons in a decade, 5000kms of bone rattling roads, torrential rain, insects, mud, a broken radiator and the strong possibility of not succeeding.

No thanks.

The question is best put to the man himself, "Matthew, what's the story?"

This is what Matthew had to say…….

"The motivation could be wrapped up in a single word, 'experience.' "So what?" you are thinking. Well, there can be a whole lot squeezed out of the noun, experience. This particular experience was one of a lifetime, an incredible excursion shared with my family, handing down a passion to my son, meeting up with old friends, establishing new friends, seeing Australia in its rawest form and remembering what trucking is all about, the journey.

Scott is my son, almost fifteen, almost a licensed driver. Navigating is his role on this adventure, co-pilot in my 1977 S.A.R Kenworth. We are followed by friends in a 1956 R190 Inter Ron. By the time we bunkered down in Kalgoorlie for the night, we had collected four more groups, a real convey in motion, gaining muscle and more horse power as we rolled on.

A nights rest in Laverton after a cruisy start was essential. As we drove through Warbuton and the Docker River the next three days of road quickly became dirt and the dirt quickly became mud. The deep tyre tracks ahead of us were like two thin parallel swimming lanes, overflowing with drenched red aussie earth.

The constant arm-wrestle with the road and the extreme elements forced my mate, Barry's wipers out of action, my own radiator also struck a leak under the pressure. We escaped through this part of the dessert by mere hours, any later passing through this isolated land and it would have been our home for proceeding days.

The GT Radial tyres I put on my rig couldn't have been more faithful on the unpredictable, mixed bag of wet and dry surfaces that I
attempted to tame with gear shifts and responsive driving.

Next port of call, was Lasseters Cave in Petermann Ranges, then the magnificent Olgas followed by Australia biggest icon, Uluru, the rock. This is the first time I witness; it's raining on the rock. I couldn't help but think of John Williamson's song.

Pastel red to burgundy and spinifex to gold, We've just come out of the Mulga where the plains forever roll. And Albert Namatjira has painted all the scenes, And a shower has changed the lustre of our land.

And it's raining on the Rock, In a beautiful country, And I'm proud to travel this big land, As an Aborigine. And it's raining on the Rock What an almighty sight to see, And I'm wishing and I'm dreaming that you were here with me.

Everlasting daisies and a beautiful desert rose Where does their beauty come from heaven knows. I could ask the wedge-tail but he's away too high, I wonder if he understands it's wonderful to fly.

It cannot be described with a picture, The mesmerising colours of the Olgas. Or the grandeur of the Rock Uluru has power!

Curtin Springs will host us for the night and our new found friends in this outback town are not always human. Local emus are attracted to the truck for a cheeky feed; they know vehicles driven for miles have collected insects and bugs along the way, bugs no longer moving targets for Australia biggest bird.

My wife Robyn and two daughters, Emma and Abbey, greet us in Alice Springs after a comfortable flight from Perth. This friendly town, smack in the middle of this country is abuzz with a population injection and energy of thousands of people, all converged for the 'Hall of Fame Truck Show.

' Trucks are congregated from around the country, rows and rows of vintage, modern machinery and all things motoring. Road-trains, fire engines, buses, tractors, army machinery and prime movers file in toe. The beating heart of this country, aussie truckies, show off their pride, their tools of the trade, their life, to wide eyed spectators, five people deep. The parade stretches for 15km's and takes 3 hrs to pass.

I bump into old trucking friends, customers and work colleagues, mates that have made the pilgrimage from other states. Machinery is admired, memories are shared as vivid as yesterdays drive, conversations, laughs and smiles are a plenty.

The Hall of Fame truck show in Alice Springs is about the presentation of Australia's unique road transport heritage and the birthplace of the roadtrain. The event is an opportunity to remember the great trucks, buses and vehicles of the past, to recognise the contribution of the men and women who drove and lived with these great machines of previous decades.

For every visitor there is a history lesson on how Australia's tough terrain broke the best vehicles the world could throw at it; of how war at Australia's doorstep brought mechanisation and development to this nation. How a unique breed of road transport pioneers used improvisation, innovation, ingenuity, commonsense and sheer will to carve a road transport network from stark wilderness. To give us an industry that has been the nucleus and backbone of Australia's development.

After the weekend's events, my family and I headed off to Ayres Rock. After some quality time as a unit, the close team that is my family, my son takes a plane ride home and Abbey, my youngest daughter takes his seat. The return trip home has just begun. This is the inception of another journey, a new experience and the first day of the rest of this life."

Matthews's response resonates deeply, stories of camping by the Docker River, the underbelly of the truck, a litter with swags, as
sleepers seek refuge from the rain, like chicks huddled beneath warm mother duck. Characters of the bush, communities at the
missions, playful aboriginal youth, sunsets, native animals, comradery, tails of support mateship and family. Experience.

A journey worth taking?

Yes please.

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