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Yellow Truck Road Train

by Mandy Tootell

reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Mandy Tootell lives in Katherine in the Northern Territory with her husband, a road train driver, and her two sons. Although Mandy is primarily a printmaker, she enjoys a range of art-making. She is handy with scissors and a glue stick, and keeps visual journals for inspiration with a focus on natural surroundings including animals, birds and the Northern Territory culture and environment. Yellow Truck Road Train is her first book.

It shows the life of a road train driver as seen through the eyes of his son, who is with him on this trip. The story starts as they are waiting for the end of the wet season so that they can get back onto the road. Most of their driving is along the Buntine Highway, a real 581 K highway that links the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Along the way they see and experience so much:  the grader driver whose job it is to make the dirt roads smooth, they pick up some cattle  followed by a load of donkeys. As they pass their friend Prickles they call him on the two way radio. Later they truck a herd of buffalo but at  night to keep them cool, taking  care all the while not hit kangaroos, and when the rains come again, carry some fat Brahman cows as their last load for the year.

This is a fascinating account of the ultimate road trip giving the reader a picture of life in the Top End. I have to confess that I have zero interest in trucks but this book is so simply told, so carefully and sensitively illustrated that I enjoyed and loved every page. The illustrations are magnificent especially the double page fold out which explains the anatomy of a 6 deck unit ( I know all the terminology now) in careful detail.

Yellow Truck Road Train was inspired by  Mandy’s husband who drives one of these giants and there is a photo of the family and the truck at the back. This book  is informative, entertaining and touching at the same time, certain to appeal to a much wider audience than just ‘truckies’.

Allen & Unwin 2020

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