Industry leader: Kate Thurston

Kate Thurston and husband Steve Thurston are a driving force behind Walgett-based rural trucking operation Thurston’s Transport.

Q: What first drew you to the commercial road transport industry?
A: It happened by chance, really. I had resigned from an office management job and commented to Steve that I might get my truck licence. He thought I was joking, but soon realised that was not the case. I figured if I was going to be sitting beside him in the truck I might as well be able to drive it.

Q: What does a standard day for you look like?
A: A standard working day starts for me as it does for the boys. Up at 5.30am, breakfast, fire up the Mack, build up air, do the daily checks and go. The day finishes when either there’s nothing left to cart, the wheat silos or cotton gin are closed, or I’ve had enough for the day.

Q: What has been a highlight of your career so far?
A: The biggest highlight for me is being able to do the job. Going from an Office Manager to a Truck Driver was an amazing challenge. My husband and brother-in-law were pretty good teachers; they showed me what to do and what not to do. Getting the licence was one thing, learning how to competently drive a truck under all conditions was another thing altogether.

Q: What is the best thing about the transport industry?
A: The best thing is the service it provides to the Australian community – which is something I’m very proud to be a part of.

Q: What do you think could be improved?
A: Seriously, where to start? I believe the authorities who make and enforce the rules should be experienced truck drivers with mechanical knowledge; then they may have a better idea of which rules are practical, realistic and workable. I also think the licencing system should be more of a logbook system where each skill is signed off on when competency is reached. Drivers need to know how to deal with all forms of terrain, weather and traffic conditions before they are let out into it. The amount of money someone is prepared to pay for a licence shouldn’t be the determining factor for getting one.

Q: What do female-driven events in commercial road transport mean to you?
A: I don’t have anything to do with female-driven events in commercial road transport. I have been employed in male-dominated industries all my working life and for me, you make the job your own by your efforts, ethics, grit and determination. I don’t see why there should be a difference between male and female in this industry. Yes, some women have difficulties with some aspects of the job; but some men do too.