There had been a bit of chatter on the UHF radio about a few stray cattle up ahead and, of course, countless kangaroo sightings. For the most part, that is how it is throughout central Queensland and the Peak Downs Highway out of Mackay, just before dawn, is notorious for kangaroos. Thankfully though, at this time of the morning traffic is pretty heavy with mine workers heading to start their shifts.
I’d been given detailed instructions on how to get to the 63,000-acre Exevale cattle station which is located a little off the beaten track north of Nebo. Like a growing number of pastoralists in central Queensland, Exevale have switched to buying Kenworth trucks to fulfil a wide range of farming applications.
A few kilometres short of Nebo, the large green sign directing traffic bound for the various coal mines dotted throughout the area appeared over the rise. The plan was to head down this road about 30 or so kilometres then turn right at the third bridge, from there the road deteriorated to a dirt track.
Enter the T401
Darcy took delivery of the Kenworth T401 earlier this year to handle a wide range of tasks, including carting cattle and horses for muster as well as hauling stock feed and farm equipment to various yards throughout the station.
“I don’t jump into anything – I consider all of the options – and I did this when I purchased my first truck,” Darcy told us. “I needed a vehicle that was not just dependable, but also versatile – something that could handle a variety of jobs beyond traditional farm work.
“While Kenworths might appear a little more expensive on paper at the start, we are repaid over the years with lower operating costs and higher resale value, Darcy added. “This makes them more affordable and cost effective over the life of the truck.”
“Our Kenworth is in constant use on the property,” Darcy explained. “Horses have to be transported out to a yard to muster cattle. And we keep our wieners, heifers, steers, breeders and saleable cattle in separate paddocks and often shift them around the property.”
“This is my son Buster,” Darcy said, motioning to the young man walking from a nearby shed. “He’s taking the T401 to the check the dam and pick up some cattle at the back of the property. Climb in with him and he’ll show you around.”
A few minutes later Buster had the T401 heading along a narrow station track, far smoother than the road to the station. “We do all our own road work here,” Buster said. “It really saves on truck maintenance when you have good farm roads.”
Even so the approaches to creek crossing were steep and Buster eased the throttle of the Cummins-powered T401 gently through each.
Buster explained that their T401 is configured with a 26-foot cattle crate which can carry 12 or 14 full-size bullocks or horses. The crate can be removed, leaving a tray for carting hay or machinery. Alternatively, a 38-foot bogey trailer can be added, transforming the T401 into a road train capable of carrying a further 19 head of cattle. The truck also includes an integrated sleeper, allowing drivers to rest when traveling longer distances to livestock markets for purchasing bulls.
“With the T401, we have got three trucks in one,” Buster continued. “It’s actually more than we need now, but we plan to have this truck for at least 20 years, and expect it to be working at full capacity in the next couple of years.”
Rated to 50 tonne GCM, Exevale’s T401 is powered by a Cummins ISM engine producing 410hp and 1450 lb/ft of torque. It features an Eaton Fuller Roadranger RTLO14918B 18-speed manual transmission, Dana DSH40P rear axles (4.33 ratio) and an integrated 28-inch sleeper cab.
Kenworth customised the truck to a higher specification so that it could not only handle demanding farm work but diverse off-road applications. This includes Kenworth’s multi-leaf front springs and six-rod rear suspension for negotiating gullies and uneven terrain, and thicker chassis rails for heavy loads.
Darcy purchased the T401 through Kenworth dealer Brown & Hurley – Mackay. “We are very happy with the entire package from Kenworth and that includes our dealer. They have given us good service and honest advice by listening to us and customising a package to suit our needs.”
“At the time the T401 was one of Kenworth’s most popular models for customers requiring a light-weight but powerful truck, delivering up to 480hp with 1650 lb/ft of torque,” Brown and Hurley’s Phil Salter explained. “By combining a light tare weight with high-performance, fuel-efficient engines and a short bumper-to-back-of-cab, the T401 could handle a variety of applications that are normally reserved for bigger trucks. Now the new T410 has filled this vocational area of the market.”
“Everyone here on the station is very happy with our T401,” Darcy added. “Our drivers love its smooth and responsive ride as well as the comfortable cabin. And I love the fact that it can handle a variety of tasks with ease.”
“Kenworth trucks are Australian designed and manufactured, so you know you’re getting a quality truck that is built to the highest standard – something that’s capable of handling heavy work over many years. And, because it’s made locally, I know I’ll be able to get parts whenever I need them,” he explained.
In addition to its duties on the property, Exevale’s T401 has been making a name for itself in the region. It attracted considerable interest from graziers and property owners when displayed at Beef Week in Rockhampton and at Australia’s largest one-day country show, the Pioneer Valley Agricultural Show in Mackay.
Model: Kenworth T401
Engine: Cummins ISM
Horsepower: 480hp (447kW) at 1900rpm
Torque: 1650 lb/ft (2779Nm) at 1250 – 1650rpm
Transmission: Eaton RTLO14918B 18-speed
Front Axle: Meritor MFS73
Front Suspension: Multi leaf
Rear Axle:Dana DSH40P
Rear Axle Ratio: 4.33:1
Rear Suspension: KW6-60A 21 low-profile 21
Rating: 50,000kg GCM
Bumper: Polished Alloy Bullbar
Exhaust: Single Vertical
Cab Colour: Blue
Chassis Colour: Red
Interior Colour: Diamond Pleat
Extras: Stainless Air Cleaners, Stainless mirrors