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THE BORDER CROSSING.. will we make it?

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Author Topic: THE BORDER CROSSING.. will we make it?  (Read 1447 times)
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« on: November 14, 2010, 08:17:52 am »

What you are about to read is true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent
.. like hell, my full name is Raymond Graham Gilleland and my Dad’s name was Reginald Edger Gilleland and they are real names of real people. What happened years ago did happen.. .yes was a long time ago but read on and have a laugh if you have ever been harassed by officious and bloody minded transport Inspectors like I was for years.
 About 50 years ago my parents decided to move from Sydney to tropical Queensland.
Dad and I decided the best way, was to buy a truck in Sydney, load everything on, migrate to Queensland and then sell the truck up there.
Looking around at what was available, which wasn’t much at the time, keeping in mind that we weren’t keeping the truck and would need to sell it at the best price when we were finished with it, we found a K5 International 5 ton flat top, ex army, with low miles and in good condition. It was still painted that flat dirty brown colour, khaki, but it would do us for what we needed. The price was right and so Dad purchased it.  He found it amusing he was now in the trucking game, sort of.
Well you should have seen us when we set out for Queensland; we looked like that movie with Henry Fonda “The Grapes of Wrath.”  That movie was about the farmers that had to leave their farms back in the 1930’s in Oklahoma for California, looking for a better life after their land turned into a dust bowl. In the movie they had G/dad sitting on a chair on top of the load on a rickety old truck. We looked nearly the same. We had the old outdoor setting which we nearly forgot roped on top of the tarpaulin covering the furniture. An old truck, covered in an old tarp, with an old outdoor table and chairs balancing on top of the load, but no G/pa on top.    Mum went by car.                                         It was just Dad; who had an artificial leg and me in the cabin of the old K5. Dad had lost his left leg to cancer years before. He never did like that spare leg and preferred his crutches.
At this time any truck carrying goods by road in the state of New South Wales further than 50 miles had to pay a tax for every mile of the journey. If going interstate then the tax was calculated to the border. This had to be paid before the journey and with stipulated dates. The permit had to be carried with the vehicle and would be checked numerous times on that journey by transport inspectors that patrolled the highways. This was because the state owned the railways and that meant they were losing revenue if goods went by road.  Half of the road tax was given to the state railways each year to help with the losses they managed to accumulate with their inefficient rail system.
Even Dad according to law had to apply for a permit to move his own goods more than 50 miles. The tax for that was not a large amount compared to general goods carted for profit.
 However I didn’t tell Dad this as I wanted him to be innocent of any wrong doing but I had in mind a chance to get back at these inspectors that had been giving me hell for years. The inspectors treated us like renegades or outlaws and we reacted to this by “giving as good as we got. “
Anyway dad hopped aboard with his crutches and we set off on a bright spring morning for the great trek to tropical Queensland 600 miles away. The border here we come.
It was late afternoon as I approached the little town of Karuah knowing that the inspectors usually waited on top of a hill near town that had a gravel area to pull off and where they could also weigh the trucks with portable scales if they thought it was overweight.
 Sure enough they were there two inspectors in a dark coloured 4 door, and as I climbed towards the top I saw one get out of the car with his grey dust coat on ready to wave me into the gravel area, a metal stop sign in his hand.
The metal stop sign was dramatically hoisted in the air and an arm waved us into the parking area.
“Son who’s the fellow in the dust coat, what does he want?”
That’s when I explained to dad quickly about the inspectors and of course he remembered all the stories I had told him of hard times they had given me.
“ Ignore him this is my truck and my goods and I will not let them interfere with my lawful business.”
I looked sideways at Dad who had a smile on his face, gave him a wink and a grin and said  “Delighted”
We both looked straight ahead ignoring the figure on the side of the road, changed up a gear and took off downhill. I couldn’t see down the passenger side of the truck as there was no mirror that side but looking into my side mirror all of sudden there was a cloud of dust in the air and their black four door bounced onto the road with the obvious intent of catching us. Now I thought, what’s coming is going to be the best part, I have wanted to do this for years.
Knowing they were overtaking me but with my hands on the wheel at 10 past10 as all new and good  drivers are taught and looking straight ahead, innocent like, I heard a voice yelling out...
“Pull over driver”
I kept looking straight ahead as if I hadn’t heard a thing. The car eased off and tucked in behind us they thinking I am about to pull over.  News for you pal this black duck just kept going.
Next thing up beside us again came the black four door “Pull over driver. I am a transport Inspector.”
This time I looked out and down towards the voice with a blank look on my face like the one my Dad used to say I had when I had done wrong as a kid. I just looked and then turned back to concentrate on my driving as something a driver would do if he was new at  driving a big truck.
The car accelerated and pulled in front of us slowing down slightly with a metal stop sign on the end of a grey arm waving vigorously above the roof of their car. The arm appeared to be quite agitated. I smiled at Dad who was also smiling then I quickly moved out and overtook this strange car with these strange people in it who seemed to be playing silly games.
Yep, up they come again the front passenger in his dust coat yelling and waving his sign...”.STOP!”.
This time with all the pent up fury and frustration of years of torment running 14 and 18 wheelers all over the country and being hounded by them day and night, I glanced down at this figure waving his stop sign and very clearly, very loudly, and very angrily yelled back at the top of my voice.
“GET STUFFED  ... get out of my way “ ( that felt so good) then like any good driver, turned my full attention to the road ahead concentrating on my driving. I think I saw his mouth drop open, I’m not real sure, but that was the impression, shock and horror.
I turned to Dad and said “Ok I’ll pull up on the road here just ahead to make it awkward for them.”
Now reader this happened over 50 years ago, there was very little traffic on the roads back then so there was no danger to anybody, there was just them and us out there on a deserted road.
I stopped the truck, left the motor running and climbed down onto the road and walked back to where they were behind us, half on and half off the road.
I was wearing scruffy old pants and shirt and Dad was in similar, old pants and shirt.
“Who the hell are you, yelling at me to pull over? You think you are the police or something. I’ve got a good mind to call into the next police station and report you for dangerous driving” was my first angry words to the two of them now walking towards me.
“We are transport Inspectors” was the reply from one of them.
“I don’t give a damn, you’re a menace on the roads. How dare you yell at me to stop. Who are you and what do you want? And make it quick.” I replied loudly and angrily.
I was wondering while this was going on, how long I could string it out. But I was determined to give it my best shot.
“We have to sight your permit.” Was their reply.
“What bloody permit, are you nuts or something? Anybody can see we are not carrying sheep or cattle if that’s what you think. You are not much good as an inspector if you can’t tell the difference between private people going about their business and livestock carriers.
“We are not livestock inspectors.” The second one replied.
“Well who the bloody hell are you and what the bloody hell do you want?”
“Where did you start your journey?” was next.
“Sydney... why.. what’s it to you?”....  We were well over a 100 miles from where we started.
“Where is your permit then to carry goods by road on a journey over 50 miles.”
“Your permit”
“No idea, what you are talking about. Permit... what the hell is a permit?”
“What load are you carrying?”
“You have to have a permit to carry furniture.”
“ Garbage,  who says?”
“The law says.”
“Rubbish... do you mean to tell me that because Dad and I are moving to Queensland we have to pay this bloody awful state money just to get out of it.... you’re dreaming?”
Just then Dad came around the front of our truck and down the road to where we were standing, swinging quickly and expertly on his crutches, with an angry look on his face.  I was proud of him.
“What’s going on son, who are these men, what do they want?” He was playing it to the hilt.
“We are transport inspectors” the second one loudly called out.
“So go and inspect some transport somewhere. My son and I have a long way to go and we haven’t got time to waste on you people.” Now my Dad was from the “old school” he could rip you to bits with the English language and you wouldn’t know what hit you.
“Well sir” No 1 Inspector said in a more a gentler tone “  a permit is needed to carry goods more than 50 miles on any one journey.”
“Well that’s fine “said Dad “Good to hear it. We are not carrying goods; we are carrying my furniture on my truck to Queensland where I will spend my retirement years. Now Ray, come son, we have a long way to go and you young man are wasting our valuable time.” With that Dad spun around on his crutches and we both headed back to the cabin of the old K5. I didn’t dare look around.  When I was back behind the wheel I looked in the small rear view mirror and there they were the two inspectors where we left them. There was an earnest discussion going on between the two of them with many a glance toward the cabin.   I engaged low gear and we took off slowly.
They followed us into the town of Karuah and I was sure they would get the police but no they pulled into the pub, probably needed a drink after the run in with us.
“How did we do” said my Dad, after a few miles with a smile all over his face.
“Great mate”  I replied laughing out loud. “Fantastic... you should have been a truck driver.”
There was one more road block to pass, the inspectors always  waited on top of Ballina hill and the next afternoon sure enough they stopped us. One of them in the middle of the road, with a stop sign and pointing to the parking area.  I didn’t pull off the road, sort of ambled up to him, leant out of the window and before the inspector could speak, I looked down and said..
“Are you another one of the Gestapo running around checking what everyone is doing in this state? We had a run in yesterday with one of you lot down near Karuah, they were happy to see the last of us. This is my dad’s truck with his furniture and he is migrating to Queensland out of this bloody awful state. I suggest you just stand aside, the border is three hours away and we intend to cross over tonight come what may.”  With that I slipped it into gear and moved off leaving him there in the middle of the road with a surprised look on his face with the stop sign, dangling down beside his leg. We watched the road behind for a time but no one chased us.
At last ....we crossed the border into Queensland a little after 8pm..all smiles.
My dad passed away many years ago.
 He enjoyed his retirement and I always had a chuckle thinking of that trip.
 He built his house, sold the truck for a small profit and over the years we both had a laugh thinking about that trip and adding little bits we could have said. Then it was good enough.
When I think of that trip and am drinking a beer.. ..The beer always tastes so much better.
Your buy!
Copyright Ray Gilleland  November 2010   from his new book.
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