The Toowoomba granny who's now an outback trucker
LIFE can be a long and hard road when you are driving Australia's biggest trucks in some of the country's hottest conditions.
Toowoomba grandma Ruth Richardson is a long way from home and while she misses her grandchildren, she has embraced this new chapter of her life.
While many her age fancy tea and a scone, Ms Richardson drives a Kenworth 909 with McAleese Group in Western Australia.
Earlier this year the 65-year-old completed an intensive two week training course to drive four trailer road trains in Port Hedland.
Now she drives one of 160 side tipper road trains known as quads. They carry up to 60,000 tonens a day of iron ore from Atlas Iron owned mines into Port Hedland.
The big rigs are 53.5 metres long, have 82 tyres and a gross weight of 175 tons. They have a top speed of 90kmh. Ms Richardson usually clocks 650km a day or more.
"Being an older woman, you can cop a lot of flak but every single person I have met has been very helpful and pleasant; I appreciate it," she said.
"You have to be able to do everything a bloke can do, as much as your physical strength will allow. It's very much a man's world here. I've seen probably about four or five women of the 400 drivers."
Ms Richardson grew up on a dairy farm at Westbrook with her parents, three brothers and two sisters.
She has three children of her own and eight grandchildren.
Ms Richardson, who previously worked in offices, said she would continue the career change until she was physically unable.
"I'm over computers. When you're driving a truck, you get paid to see the country," she said.
"With computers, they suck your brain out of her head. Well, that's how I was feeling. I worked with computers since they were practically invented."