Rod has been with Integrity Coach Lines for 10 years and has been driving coaches for over 50 years. Prior to working for Integrity, Rod was working for Greyhound and changed to Integrity Coach Lines when Greyhound stopped servicing the West Coast of Australia
We asked Rod what he does on the first day of any shift. Rod replied that he has a nap during the afternoon as the coach leaves in the evening. He arrives at work between 5 & 6pm of an evening and loads his clothes and tools into the coach and food into the fridge, so he’s prepared for being away for 3 nights.
Rod then checks the manifest so he has an idea of passenger numbers and the stops he’ll be picking up from and dropping off to. He then does his vehicle checks ensuring tyres and lights are up and running. Toilet is clean and tidy and the coach is ready to go.
He and his co-driver then head into Perth and arrive around 8.30pm to meet passengers, load their luggage and leave at 9pm. Rod then drives for approx. 3 hours before changing over with his co-driver, he then heads to the bunk and sleeps while his co-driver drives. This way, he will ensure they are well rested and not fatigued as they make their way on the long journey to Hedland.
We asked Rod what one of his most memorable trips was. This trip was prior to Rod working with Integrity, however here’s what he had to say: “The trip was Darwin to Perth. Departed Darwin Christmas Eve with no passengers and travelled down to Halls Creek. We picked up two girls from the roadhouse and taking them to Broome for Christmas dinner, unaware of what was to unfold. Around 2am Christmas Day we pulled up at the waters edge at Gogo Station 25km north of Fitzroy, there was a roadtrain parked on the top of a hill going nowhere. We had a chat to the driver via the CB radio, he had been there for hours due to water across the road, he was going off to bed and would worry about it in the morning. So my co-driver also went to bed and I watched the water, ready to back up as it got closer. Unfortunately the truckie couldn’t move and come daylight the truck was in it, his 3rd trailer was under water and we had moved back 4 times as the water rose. The truck driver had to be rescued. They got a boat from the station but that didn’t work as the current was too strong. A steiger tractor, the biggest made, went in however the water tossed it around like a cork. The next trick, a chopper, lifted him off the roof of his truck and to safety. So for us, back to Halls Creek and dropped the girls off, but no Christmas dinner for them. We were advised to go back to Kununarra and wait, so we did. We sat for a week in a motel getting updates. Finally at the end of the week we left to go south, still lots of water. Bridges washed out, with army type bridge detours in their place and finally we arrived in Broome. We loaded nearly a full coach of passengers and made it to Perth. The road from Derby north was closed for repairs for quite some time.
Lastly we also asked Rod what his favourite part of the job was and he said “driving into the yard with another 3000km done, a tidy up of our ride, a chat to the mechanic, a joke and a laugh with everyone in the yard and paperwork done. You have a feeling of satisfaction and the next week we’ll do it all again”.
Courtesy of Rod Verco. Photo’s (in order) by Pete West, Barbara Hartfield and Kim Beard.