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Year: 2019

MICHAEL PIETRALA (MICK) began driving for his parents E & VM Pietrala in 1979 at the age of 17 when his father fell ill. Joined by brothers Keith and John in 1982 and 1986, they were taught by their dad to do their own repairs. Works consisted of grain, fertiliser, livestock and fish. Cattle and sheep were carted to abattoirs in Port Pirie, Old Noarlunga, Murray Bridge Lobethal and the Cavan Saleyards. In 1980 they carted pigs to Castlemaine. fish and crayfish were carted from Thevenard and Streaky Bay to Port Lincoln and Sydney or Melbourne markets in iced tubs on a flat top until eventually a fridge van was purchased. In 1993 Mick and wife Lyn purchased their own truck to cart sheep before starting in general freight. Trips included Adelaide, Whyalla, Perth MacKay, Townsville, Brisbane and Sydney. A tipper roadtrain was purchased at years end for local grain.

In January 1995 Mick went to work for Trans Australia in Strathalbyn before moving to Streaky Bay to become a sub-contractor with R&E Bascombe. In 2000 Mick and Lyn purchased a Freightliner and soon after bought out Bascombe and focused on livestock. Mick travelled to nearly every area of Western Australia in 2005 to cart sheep back to South Australia. He also carted livestock for agistment, after the terrible fires at Wangary on lower Eyre Peninsula. The drought in Queensland also created work carting sheep from Winton, Ivanhoe and Tilpa areas. In 2008 after only 20,000 kilometres their new Western Star rolled on the Bruce Highway whilst carting a road train of sheep for agistment. Fortunately it was able to be repaired.

In 2012 Mick purchased another new Western Star. Five days later he collapsed with a stomach ulcer followed a collapsed lung, resulting in him being off work for around eight to ten weeks. With support from friends, farmers and many transport owners, they still had a business to return to when Mick recovered. Mick also carted buffalo from Darwin to Whites Flat. After the mass death of captive tuna at Port Lincoln in 1996, he carted 1700 ton of the dead tuna from wharf to the dump. He has unloaded cattle off the Kangaroo Island Ferry and sheep from Thistle Island.

Forty years after starting as a driver, Mick still does his own maintenance, much of it out in the elements, including changing tyres the old way. At 57 years of age he is still driving, smoking, swearing and loving a chat while carting livestock all around Australia.

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