Piallaway's Col Dolahenty retires from carting livestock after 62 years on the road

RELIABLE: Col Dolahenty and 'the old girl' - his 1974 Volvo. Photos: Peter Hardin 251017PHB034
RELIABLE: Col Dolahenty and 'the old girl' - his 1974 Volvo. Photos: Peter Hardin 251017PHB034

HE’S a cattle and wheat farmer at heart, but he’s also managed to rack up 1.5 million kilometres carting them as a side-career.

Now, after decades of driving, Piallaway’s Col Dolahenty has finally decided to put his trusty Volvo in park and retire.

He’s just wound up 62 years of trucking cattle to mainly Tamworth, Gunnedah and Quirindi for people in his area.

TYPICAL, DAD: A caricature one of Col's daughters commissioned for his birthday. 251017PHB117

TYPICAL, DAD: A caricature one of Col's daughters commissioned for his birthday. 251017PHB117

And despite the length of his carting career, he says it was all a bit of an accident.

“I really got into the trucking side with my own stock [then hereford x santa gertrudis] when the markets were falling here in the ’80s,” he says.

“We were finding we were getting better markets down around the Hunter area abattoirs.

“So I started running our own stock down there and then a few of the neighbours said, ‘Oh gee, can you take some for us?’ and it snowballed on from that, really.”

Mr Dolahenty says he has since carted cattle for three and even four generations of his neighbours.

“I wouldn’t call them my clients; I reckon everybody I’ve carted for has been friends – and longtime friends, really.”

Just three second-hand trucks have seen him through: a 1950 Ford, a 1961 Toyota and a 1974 Volvo.

He still has all three: “He’s a bit of a hoarder,” Barb says.

FAMILY: Barbara and Col on the family property; their son and daughter-in-law bought it two years ago. 251017PHB108

FAMILY: Barbara and Col on the family property; their son and daughter-in-law bought it two years ago. 251017PHB108

“Barb reckons I spent as much time underneath the trucks as I did inside the damn things, driving them,” Mr Dolahenty says.

“I’ve had to be a bit of a backyard bush mechanic; get to the minor things before it really breaks down.”

The Volvo, he bought with a reconditioned chassis and the odometer having just turned over a million kilometres. So with their almost 25-year relationship, does he have a name for his truck?

“Just ‘me old girl’, that’s all,” he says with a laugh.

“The wife is ‘the young girl’ and this one is ‘the old girl’ – but I’ve been very dependent on both of them all those years.”

Mr Dolahenty says he’s sad his carting days are over, but it was time.

“It’s mainly my age, really. I had a little bit of health trouble, but I sort of thought my dear old Volvo truck would lay down and die before me – but she’s still going,” he says.

“I might end up selling it, maybe; it’s still registered … she’s done about 600,000km since I’ve had her, but she’s been a good old girl and I’m going to miss it.”