Coast truckie stranded on road for three months
IT HAS been three months since Ken Warneke has been able to return to his Glenwood home.
The truckie has been on the road, delivering freight services between Brisbane and Victoria throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Thousands of us transport drivers drive from Brisbane to Melbourne," he said.
"The way things are set up with permits, not many of us can go home."
Mr Warneke has long been used to living in his truck, only going home on the weekend but now he is living in his truck full-time.
It's a good thing he enjoys his job.
"I like the solitude," he said.
Mr Warneke is currently in Melbourne and will travel back to Brisbane late on Thursday.
"It's pretty quiet, a bit eerie," he said.
He was one of 30 to 40 drivers pulled up at a truck stop in the city.
Mr Warneke said the normally busy city was quieter than usual.
"There aren't too many people moving around," he said.
"Everyone is wearing face masks."
With the spike in cases in Victoria, Mr Warneke is also keeping his distance.
"I tend to spend all my time in the truck," he said.
He has noticed security getting tighter as he moves across the borders.
While previously trucks were waved through, police were now regularly checking permits.
Mr Warneke has become accustomed to knowing which border stops to cross at to save time.
He went through the border crossing at Coolangatta to begin with but traffic was backed up several kilometres at the coastal city.
Since then he has crossed at Goondiwindi.
Mr Warneke said the camaraderie in the industry had always been strong and the current crisis was showing that.
He said more drivers wanted to be tested for COVID-19, especially given they were travelling through hot spots at times.
Mr Warneke said finding time to get tested was a challenge ashe was on the road so much and clinics tended to be closed while he was off work.
He said drivers were being very careful, because a spread of the disease among truck drivers could be disastrous for the country's transport industry.
Mr Warneke said he was being careful for the good of the community and for his own young grandchildren.
He's hoping he'll be able to go home by Christmas to spend time with his family.