Noel's driven enough to go to the moon and back 16 times
ASK retired Casino truckie Noel James how many kilometres he's travelled in his career and he comes back real quick with the right answer: 12 million.
That's the equivalent of driving to the moon, which is between 360,000 and 400,000km away, and back about 16 times.
Spanning a neat 50 years behind the wheel, he started out as a 23-year-old driving a petrol guzzling International 190.
His first trip was to Brisbane, but it wasn't long before he began pulling potatoes out of the Dorrigo, and later sliding his way through the boggy black soil plains west of Moree.
When you get Noel together with legend truckie Andy Soutar originally of Geelong, the tall tales really start flying.
Ever heard of the Pilbarra Princess and the sly looks she used to give passing truck drivers?
Well, these boys have a few cracker yarns we could tell you.
But we wont, 'cause this is a family newspaper.
It was a reunion of sorts at Casino on Saturday with a terrific turn out of big rigs - and some little ones - as part of the Casino Truck Show.
The original date was scheduled for late August but was rained out, would you believe, and despite the set back the turnout this weekend was awesome.
Judge Steve Graham from Casino said the event did a world of good for morale in an industry where profit margins and road regulations were tighter than ever.
"Whether it's fuel, food, clothing or cars, it's all transported on trucks," said the veteran of 26 years behind the wheel.
Back in Noel and Andy's day top speed was 60km/h, the Newell Highway was mostly dirt, and the long hours on the road were offset by roadhouses full of beer and stimulants like 'shakers' and slimming tablets that kept the drivers clocking 300,000km every 12 months, year in and year out.
Nowadays the trucks are powerful rigs with top speeds uphill better than most cars and it still amazes these drivers that passenger vehicles pull out to pass and when they get in front they slow down.