Characters of the Kimberley

~Barry~


This gentle souled, wheel hugger of the north west is well loved throughout Derby town and across the rugged West Kimberley. Like all iconic characters of the northern reaches of WA, he is a real down to earth true blue person.


What you see is what you get…And there is never a bad word said about him...


Outback bush tracks are no tar covered highway you can sleep whilst driving upon. They jar your spine, numb your hands and rattle the bolts from places in your beast that least can do without such fastenings.


Needless to say, driving trucks often towing trailers full of heavy gear and equipment, is far from easy on these outback tracks. It is a skill only locals such as Barry have gained and mastered after 50 odd years experience.


The isolated Kimberley, is the rugged outback country of the north. Country where the likes of Barry are required to be way more than just truck drivers...


In order to survive the dust and the ruts, the bogs, floods, fires and isolation from services and parts out here, for the Barrys of the outback to get their rig from A to B, each truckie has to be able to do everything from bush mechanics to road maintenance.


After all that immense experience from that 50 years on the road, Barry has some rules. Rules he says you’ve got to follow when driving these tracks if you want to survive...


He lives by the philosophy that you should always go down a hill in a truck using the same gear you drove up that hill. And he pulls up every so often whilst driving the rugged routes to check that rocks have not got stuck between the dual wheels on the truck. If rocks get caught between the duals they will abrade the tyre walls and blow $600 worth of rubber.


Barry’s motto is to take it slow and steady, because as he always says; “I’m in no rush…what’s the hurry?”


And out here that’s the right attitude to have, because the most important thing is to get the truck and it’s load all those 100’s of kilometres across wild country into town safely in one piece.


Over the years whilst driving big rigs all over the Kimberley for the mines and stations located in some very remote places, often to get those oversized loaded rigs through, Barry has even had to get out and fill in bogs with rocks by hand. This bog pictured below took 2 hours of rock filling to get it to the point where he felt he could get his truck pulling a low loader carrying a bulldozer through…




As you can see, there is neither room for complacency, nor place for the inexperienced when venturing beyond the comforts of today’s civilisation’s expected services...




Just this one 15 metre bog epitomises the efforts of so many for so long to open the Kimberley and keep it working.




Despite all the right risk management, the hours of bog consolidation with rocks and the skill of wheel and throttle by Barry, the rear end of the low loader trailer, with it’s heavy load, buried its tail end in the mud so hard – the rig lost traction and the best endeavours of all came to a halt in the middle of the bog.




Luckily the Kimberley men were sort of prepared for the worst and Taffy had the now repaired grader ready for such an event as this. Barry efficiently hooked up some heavy duty chains, and within 5 minutes…




The oversized rig and trailer were towed through and out of the slippery mire…




Barry was on his way once more, happy he and Taffy had been able to get that yellow leviathan of a Grader repaired…




As he Headed off into the sunrise…Barry’s truck “Blina Diamond” belched black smoke whilst he shifted a gear moving out, and I watched just another day in the life of a great truckie from the Kimberley go on by…




There is so much owed to these road warriors of the rugged trails of the north west. Taffy and I are proud to be able to bring you Barry’s story - another Kimberley icon.


Thank You Barry for all the friendship and mateship we have shared and will continue to do so as the years pass us to the twilight. Like so many, you belong in the Kimberley’s Hall of Fame.